KP Book Review: The Lost Girl of Astor Street

By M. R. Shupp

If your best friend was kidnapped, to what lengths would you go to bring her home?

Piper Sail is an eighteen-year-old woman living amidst the jazzy 1920s. When her best friend, Lydia, goes missing, Piper breaks the societal expectations for a woman her age and investigates the disappearance. She earns the disapproval of many, but she does catch the eye of a handsome detective named Mariano.The_Lost_Girl_of_Astor_Street Together, they continue to search, but Piper discovers information that makes her believe Lydia’s abduction is part of a bigger scheme.

Stephanie Morrill’s novel will transport you to the heart of glitzy 1920s Chicago, complete with flapper dresses, speakeasies, mobsters, and corruption. When I began reading the story, I was surprised at how quickly it came to life. Morrill contrasted the affluence of Astor Street against the underbelly of Chicago through detailed description that blew me away.

My favorite aspect of this story, however, was the theme. Piper’s determination to find Lydia shows the power of friendship. As Piper digs deeper into Chicago’s underbelly, she uncovers secrets about her family, Mariano, and Lydia that leave her wondering if she truly knows anyone.

Despite the emotional turmoil she experiences, Piper stays strong in her loyalty to Lydia. She tells Mariano, “You said that you didn’t know any other way to play the game except to give it all. To leave it all on the field. That’s how I feel about Lydia. I don’t know how to do anything else but leave it all on the field.”

People attempt to convince Piper to give up the search, especially when the situation becomes more dangerous. Instead, she follows the advice of her father: “To love anyone is to risk.”

Piper doesn’t fear traversing the underbelly of Chicago if it means she may unearth a clue about her friend, neither is she afraid to use her feminine charms to gather information from unsavory men. Although Piper’s methods aren’t always honest, it demonstrates how much she is willing to risk for Lydia’s sake, and her devotion is admirable.

If Piper hadn’t clung to her friendship with Lydia, she wouldn’t have been as compelling a character, and she would have abandoned her mission because of the perils involved. Thus, without the theme, the story wouldn’t have happened! Authors need to imitate Morrill’s example and use theme to weave plot and characters together. Theme will motivate characters to persevere through trials and obstacles, and it will enable readers to connect with them and cheer them on through the difficulties.

Morrill introduces new twists nearly every chapter to complicate the mystery, and the romance between Piper and Mariano adds flair to the story as they try to solve Lydia’s disappearance as well as figure out their relationship. However, I wouldn’t recommend reading this novel before work (unfortunately, I made this mistake) or late at night because you may get sucked into the story!


M.R._Shupp_PhotoGalaxy tights, mismatched socks, and a cup of tea in her T. Rex mug often accompany Megan when she sits down to write. Her passion for story has impacted her life since she and her sister first began enacting stories with their dolls and using their imaginations to create worlds of stories in their backyard. Having recently graduated with her Bachelor of Arts through Thomas Edison State University and currently earning a Graduate Certificate in Editing through University of California Berkeley Extension, Megan is using her love of story and purpose of serving Christ to write and edit stories.

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Comments

  1. Okay, I think I should read this book.

    • M. R. Shupp says:

      You definitely should read the book! I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction usually, but Stephanie Morrill is an absolutely fantastic author and I couldn’t read this story fast enough.

  2. Great review, Megan! I am almost finished with this book and it’s absolutely incredible! I love the characters and the way Morrill unfolds the mystery.

    • M. R. Shupp says:

      I’m so glad to hear that you’ve enjoyed it too! Morrill is very talented. Have you read any of her other series?

      • I haven’t read any more of Morrill. Any recommendations? 🙂

        • M. R. Shupp says:

          Both of her other series are contemporary with some romance, so if you aren’t into romance, I wouldn’t suggest reading them. But they’re very clean yet realistic which is something I loved about them. Her Me, Just Different trilogy was absolutely amazing just about the struggles of a teenage girl trying to live in the world and please God. Then the Ellie Sweet books were a great perspective on a teen girl’s writing journey and how she used her writing as a coping mechanism. I’d definitely recommend both, but I personally enjoyed the Me, Just Different trilogy the best.

  3. I just started reading this yesterday, and I am already halfway through it!

    • M. R. Shupp says:

      I hope you like it as much as I did! If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love hearing your thoughts on it!

      • Abigail Blomberg says:

        I did enjoy it immensely! Unfortunately, I did not take your advice and was reading it late at night until I finished it at 1 in the morning, but I suppose that means it was a good book then!
        The plot was the main thing that kept me turning page after page. The curiosity of the what would happen next and solving the mystery made the book impossible to put down. Stephanie Morrill wove in twists that completely went against what I thought was going to happen, creating a unique, intense and unpredictable mystery.
        I also liked reading in first person, present tense POV. Some stories I have read in that POV make it awkward and hard to read, but it was not until I was into the second chapter or so that I realized that is what she was doing! She made the point of view through Piper Sail’s eyes flow very smoothly.
        Though the POV in which it was written was well written, I did feel a bit disconnected from the main character throughout the story. It could just be my preferred reading style, but I had a hard time connecting to her because a lack of inner narrative/dialogue that made me /feel/ her emotions more. However, Stephanie Morrill did a good job showing Piper’s emotions through actions, and I loved Piper’s determination through her daunting task despite her grief. Piper had such a strength and loyalty that gave her lovable qualities, and she had a relatable and fun character because of her quirks and flaws.
        As I said before, the resolution of the mystery was not at all what I suspected, so I enjoyed the unpredictability of the plot. I did feel slightly dissatisfied because the loose ends of the story did not quite tie up as tightly as I would have liked, and I was still slightly confused in some areas of how it all happened. But with those loose ends, I did enjoy how it opened up a sense of a new adventure awaiting Piper at the end of the story and how it gave the readers’ room to wonder and imagine what would happen next.

        • M. R. Shupp says:

          Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know what you thought!
          One in the morning is very late (or I suppose early would be the correct word), but that means it was a good book like you said! Glad you enjoyed it!
          I agree with you that the ending was slightly confusing in some ways. It seemed to go a little too quickly, and I didn’t quite catch all the details of what the happenings were, but I still enjoyed the unexpectedness of the ending. I hope Morrill is going to write a sequel for Piper’s new adventures and tie up the rest of the loose ends, but we will see!
          Something I really appreciate from Morrill is the way she researches her storyworlds. You could definitely tell she knew what she was talking about when reading the story!

  4. This book is going on my TBR list. It sounds amazing!

  5. I ordered this book on the day it came out.
    Twice.
    (Okay so there were complications with forgotten pre-orders and I-MUST-READ-THIS-NOW impatience.) But I was correct, I did need to read it. Right then. The story was fantastic, the characters believable, and the feel of a brand new hardcover in my palm at… one of /those/ hours of the night? Priceless. (Although I did pay a price. Calculus class is hard when the night is spent with one’s nose in a book.) Totally worth it though!

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