Cricket farm sabotage, a spying moose, parent-enforced summer camps and a deep, dark secret buried in a gym bag: Kate Messner's Chirp is a deliciously layered concoction of mystery, friend bonding and girl power.
When 12-year-old Mia moves with her family back to Vermont after a couple of years in Boston, she is a much quieter, more cautious girl. The year before, Mia broke her arm in a balance beam accident. Now, although she's been cleared to return to the gym, she wants to put her gymnastics years behind her. Even so, her parents are making her participate in two camps this summer: "Something for [her] body and something for [her] brain," as her mom keeps reminding her. Reluctantly, Mia signs up for an entrepreneurial launch program and a warrior challenge camp. Soon, in spite of herself, Mia is making friends and immersing herself in ideas to make her grandmother's cricket farm more profitable and sustainable. Unfortunately, it looks like someone is sabotaging the farm, and a businessman with the Nancy Drew-worthy name of Chet Potsworth might be the one behind the destructive shenanigans.
Mystery lovers may be captivated by the twists and turns of this well-written whodunnit, but Chirp's appeal is broad enough to find fans of many stripes. Some may even come for the mystery but stay for the complex characterizations and skilled plot development. Any reader will be able to cheer Mia on as she rebuilds her confidence and strength after a rough and disturbing year. Messner (The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.; Breakout; The Brilliant Deep) gracefully spins multiple threads into one beautiful, empowering novel that is likely to satisfy warriors and quietly courageous readers alike. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor