Palace Beautiful by Sarah DeFord Williams
"All the bad things in the world lie inked on these pages."
Sadie finds a little room hidden inside the attic of her new house. Inside the room is a picture of a family and a journal. The journal belongs to Helen White who lived in the same house in the early 1900s. Sadie, her next door neighbor Bella, and Sadie's little sister Zuzu, decide to read 6 entries a day to find out what Helen thought was so horrible, she wrote about it, but never wanted to read again. "Father came home from work early. He said it was the influenza that took that family Sunday. He said it seemed to be spreading across the city." They read all about the flu epidemic that ravaged the town in the early 1900s and what Helen's family had to deal with. "I started thinking about the sick families again...and went to the attic...I've decided to make this my safe place...my very own Palace Beautiful."
In the meantime, Sadie is afraid for her stepmother's life. Her mother died giving birth to Zuzu and now her stepmother, Sherrie, is in her last month of pregnancy. Also Bella, who's real name is Kristin, is trying to get her mother to spend more time at home and to let her be herself. A great middle grade read with just a touch of history.