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The Secret Sisters

The Secret Sisters Avi

Clar­i­on Books, 2023

buy the book 

audio book nar­rat­ed by 
Lau­ren Fortgang

read the first book about Ida:
if you liked this book, try:

What’s this book about?

Attend­ing high school in Steam­boat Springs is Ida Bidson’s dream—it’s her next step toward becom­ing a teacher and her best shot at escap­ing a life of milk­ing cows. It’s 1925, and from using tele­phones to attend­ing movies, Ida is thrilled by her new expe­ri­ences in Steam­boat. She and her school friends even form a club, the Secret Sis­ters, to cel­e­brate every­thing modern.

But when they acci­den­tal­ly antag­o­nize the strict, tra­di­tion­al­ist prin­ci­pal, Ida’s high school career may be over before it even begins. It’s up to the Secret Sis­ters find a way to save Ida’s dream!

Read­ers will cheer for Ida as she con­tin­ues the adven­ture begun in the one-room school­house of Avi’s pop­u­lar The Secret School.


Lis­ten to Lau­ren Fort­gang read the first chap­ter of The Secret Sis­ters.


This sequel to The Secret School (2001) con­tin­ues the sto­ry of 14-year-old Ida, who leaves her home on a Col­orado farm in 1925 to attend high school in Steam­boat Springs. Ida boards with Trudy, a woman mourn­ing for her fiancé, who fought in the Great War and died dur­ing the 1918 pan­dem­ic. Besides encour­ag­ing Ida to work hard and avoid annoy­ing the prin­ci­pal, Trudy express­es con­cern that Ida is influ­enced too much by her “secret sis­ters” (a small group of new class­mates), par­tic­u­lar­ly live­ly, rebel­lious Lulu. When stress­ful sit­u­a­tions arise, Ida han­dles them with sup­port from those around her and with increas­ing con­fi­dence in her­self and her val­ues. While Avi focus­es pri­mar­i­ly on Ida’s excite­ment, wor­ries, and growth as her world expands, cer­tain ele­ments place the sto­ry firm­ly with­in its his­tor­i­cal con­text. These include the increas­ing sup­port of women’s rights, the wide­spread adop­tion of inno­va­tions such as radio, elec­tric lights, and tele­phones, and Lulu’s use of flap­per slang, which is trans­lat­ed with­in the text and the append­ed glos­sary. An enjoy­able his­tor­i­cal nov­el with a lik­able hero­ine. (Car­olyn Phe­lan, Book­list)

Ida Bid­son attend­ed a one-room school­house, but in Sep­tem­ber 1925, she says good­bye to her fam­i­ly. She won’t be home for two months. Ida dreams of being a teacher, so she must go 20 miles away to high school. Kind coun­ty school inspec­tor Miss Sedgewick lets Ida board with her for free, and every­thing feels so mod­ern: indoor plumb­ing, elec­tric­i­ty, and a tele­phone! Ida’s anx­ious to please but wres­tles with what’s con­sid­ered prop­er and what oth­er peo­ple think of her. When she makes some friends, they form the Secret Sis­ters club to try new things and help each oth­er in school. But the girls end up on the bad side of the prin­ci­pal, who has firm atti­tudes about lady­like behav­ior, women vot­ers, and the capa­bil­i­ty of rur­al stu­dents and threat­ens to expel them. Get­ting good grades on the upcom­ing midterm exams is crit­i­cal. While main­tain­ing a sol­id ground­ing in the 1920s, the nov­el tack­les self-dis­cov­ery amid chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tions, includ­ing deal­ing with peer pres­sure, misog­y­ny, clas­sism, and gen­er­al unfair­ness, in ways con­tem­po­rary read­ers will find acces­si­ble and relat­able. His­tor­i­cal facts are mem­o­rably and organ­i­cal­ly con­veyed through Ida’s innate curios­i­ty. Char­ac­ters read White; one of Ida’s friends is from an immi­grant min­ing com­mu­ni­ty, and her name cues as hav­ing East Euro­pean her­itage. One for smart, out­spo­ken kids look­ing for their places in the world. (Kirkus Reviews)

buy the book 
read the first book about Ida:
if you liked this book, try: