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The Girl Who Owned a City

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,478 Ratings  ·  434 Reviews
A killing virus has swept the earth, sparing only children through the age of twelve. There is chaos everywhere, even in formely prosperous mid-America. Gangs and fierce armies of children begin to form almost immediately. It would be the same for the children on Grand Avenue but for Lisa, a ten-year-old girl who becomes their leader. Because of Lisa, they have food, even ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 189 pages
Published September 15th 1977 by Laurel Leaf (first published 1975)
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Miss Crosby I think this is a stand-alone novel! :) If you enjoyed it you should try 'Gone' by Michael Grant.
classified name You can either download a sample or you may buy the book in the kindle book store.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 01, 2011 Melody rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melody by: Wendy Burton
This is hands-down one of the worst books I have ever read. Pedantic in the extreme, nonsensically plotted and full of so many holes it looks like lace. And the writing is abysmal. Wait, what's worse than abysmal? Right, this book.

A plague has wiped out all the adults, so they are freshly dead. Except there aren't any bodies. Not one. They seem to have vanished, poof. Electricity doesn't work and there's no water to any of the houses, but there aren't any sanitation discussions. Apparently the p
I read this in junior high. I can't remember a lot of details, just certain specific incidents come back to me at different times. Sometimes I think - remember when that girl in that book went to the grocery store and was glad the gang members hadn't taken the medicine, just the potato chips? Or, remember when that girl from that book had to learn to drive and didn't do so badly and was glad there was gas in the car? Then I start to think how hard it would be to start over again when all the adu ...more
Apr 08, 2013 Lauren rated it it was amazing
I've been looking for this book forever. All I could remember is reading an older book about a city where the adults died and the kids had to survive. Finally found it! I checked this book out over and over and over and over and over from the library when I was in middle school. Loved it. Was addicted to it. Finally found it. So happy!
Feb 03, 2010 Delaina rated it did not like it
Let me start by saying that I didn't finish this so-called novel -- in fact, I didn't get past chapter 5. I kept thinking to myself that it would get better, but as the plot got rolling the unrealistic elements leaped out even more strongly than before. From page one, I felt the writing was less than acceptable for a published novel. (And when I saw the author's dedication to 'Lisa and Todd' I knew that a large conceit like super-characterizing your own children would lead to many, many others.) ...more
Oct 02, 2013 Alyssap rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Some stories come around and you can’t help but keep reading them. One of those books is The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson. It’s an amazingly descriptive story about a world that is only inhabited by kids.
The story starts by 10 year old Lisa, the main character, breaking into a vacant house to steal supplies like food and candles. At first, it just seems like she’s a thief, but you will soon change your mind. She spots a note on the way out written by a father explaining to his sons tha
Jan 16, 2013 Katie rated it it was ok
Oh, this book. The eight-year-old me who first discovered it would give it a 5-star rating. Twelve year old me would probably put it at 3. And as an adult, I want to give it a 1. So, I have given it a 2, overall.

This book is why I became interested in dystopian fiction. It is also why, as other reviewers have commented, I pass by school buildings and wonder what it'd be like to build a community within them.

But it really isn't that good. It's actually poorly written in many ways - the timeline i
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Okay, this is a review with major qualification.

I read this first when I was nine, and I loved it. I think I read it along with some other apocalyptic scenarios, and this was also the time I started in on sci fi, so altogether I was looking for adventure. Somehow this book lodged in my mind and I only recently got my hands on it again. And once I did, I burst out laughing: this is a libertarian call to action!

I'm much savvier politically than I was at 9 years old, and it's hilarious to realize t
Daniel .e
Sep 16, 2013 Daniel .e rated it it was amazing
The Girl Who Owned a City
Picture yourself in a world without parents, without TV and other electronics. Now picture yourself looking for food in abanded homes. If you can picture that, than you understand some of Lisa’s life. Lisa is a 10 year old girl whose parents were taken by the plague. Lisa has a 6 year old brother Todd. Lisa has to get food for Todd and her. A problem is that when the plague struck gangs formed immediately. So Lisa has to look in places that haven’t been ransacked already
Mar 29, 2013 Fiver rated it it was ok
A dismal and hugely overrated experience.

We all have a weak spot in our literary preferences, and I have a particular one for post-apocalyptic settings. But while most 'PA' stories smartly take advantage of the thrills found in survivalism and violent conflict, I'm a real sucker for the focus on rebuilding, on the need for organization and structure, and the intricate task of reintroducing it into the world. So I thought I would enjoy "The Girl Who Owned A City", which I'd heard focused on this
Thomas Ryerson
Jan 08, 2011 Thomas Ryerson rated it it was amazing
I originally read this book back in Grade Seven, (1977-1978) and loved the concept. No parents! I was surprised that the author, Terry Nelson, didn't write any sequels. I see in searching for this book today, another author may have taken the lead from Terry and done just that. This book could have easily gone into a 10 volume set of Lisa's adventures.

The Girl who owned a city definitely influenced two of my own books; Castle Lake and Fun City. My character of Alicia Murdock in Castle Lake has
Elsa Carlson
Mar 09, 2015 Elsa Carlson rated it liked it
The Girl Who Owned A City, by O.T. Nelson, is a Fiction novel in full bounce. This book reminds me of a book called The Class Trip, which shares the theme of loneliness with this book. This book is about a girl named Lisa and her brother Todd. All adults are dead because of a disease that kills everyone over 12. Lisa and Todd, and all the other kids that live on grand Avenue are determined to stay alive during this deadly plague. At first when they're fortress in the neighborhood gets burned dow ...more
Sarah's Book Nook
School read, review to come.

I read this with one of my students for her instructional level reading group. The premise of the story was fantastic, a plague has killed everyone over the age of 12 and now children have to learn how to survive on their own in a new dark age. But I could not get over all the things that made no effing sense. Where were all the dead bodies? If every single person on the planet over the age of 12 died, did they just disappear? Doubtful because toward the end when Lisa
Wendy Bousfield
Oct 09, 2014 Wendy Bousfield rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult

A libertarian fable, Girl Who Owned a City certainly “has a palpable design” on its young adult readers (Virginia Woolf, “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown”). Brown’s hero, ten-year-old Lisa, and her five year-old brother, Todd, have the same names as Nelson’s two children. Clearly, Nelson must have written his only novel to encourage his children, as well as other young readers, to become dedicated libertarians.

After a virus kills all adults, Lisa and Todd struggle to survive. Courageous, hard-workin
Lauren R.
Sep 17, 2013 Lauren R. rated it really liked it
The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T Nelson is mind catching story about Lisa and Todd’s life style. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars because it explains there life in a not so normal way. I liked that Lisa and Todd both worked together to help each other through good and bad. The showed great team work when Lisa asked Craig if he could come with her to the secret and he said yes so that’s were Lisa and Craig’s team work began.

In this story I like how it had good details and adjectives. An e
-- Originally reviewed at Here There Be Books on October 1, 2009. --

Wikipedia says that Mr Nelson intended TGWOAC to basically be a Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy for dummies, which is probably why I hated it so much. Not that I necessarily have anything against objectivism, but from the first page you can tell pretty quickly that a) the book is written badly, b) it's trying to force a viewpoint across to the reader and c) this would make a great SyFy movie.

So, yeah, I pretty much hated every
It's hard to review a book when you've read it as both a child and an adult. The kid in me still loves this book, but the older me isn't sure how much of that is genuine adoration and how much is just the rose-tinted glasses that color memories from that time in my life.

I first read this book in fifth or sixth grade, I think, and at the time it was exactly the sort of thing that appealed to me. Kids running around without any pesky adults to tell them what to do, and, despite their hardships, le
Nov 27, 2012 Cecelia rated it really liked it
The Girl Who Owned a City

By: O.T. Nelson

The Girl Who Owned a City is a fictional dystopia or a post-apocalyptic story, where a disease wiped out all people ages 13 and older. Ten-year old, smart, and creative Lisa becomes the leader of Grand Avenue, a neighborhood, and all the children in it. Because of Lisa and her big ideas, the citizens of Grand Ave. have food, shelter, and protection from the gangs, which were formed as a source of power to acquire food and other vital necessities.

Lisa and h
Jubilation Lee
Normally, when I'm reading a book set in a disastrous post-apocalyptic world, I find myself thinking "Wow, I would fail at this. I'd be dead in a hot second." Not so with The Girl Who Owned A City! I'd have been fine!

I mean, not only does the title character manage to find both a warehouse of food and a fortified building to live in, but her post-apocalyptic world does not appear to be ravaged by fire, plagued by disease, or filled with piles and piles of the rotting bodies of everyone over the
Jan 06, 2010 Rachael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm reading this now with my 6th graders; I think it's at 5th grade level. They love it so far and ask questions compulsively--sometimes we can't get to the bottom of the page without 5 or so questions. They are baffled by the world without adults and keep asking things like, what happens if she runs a red light? Oh yeah, there's no more electricity so there are no red lights. Why don't they have eggs for breakfast? Oh yeah, there are no farmers living or delivery trucks or stores where they can ...more
May 03, 2009 Nicole rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008-09-read
The Girl Who Owned a City is a book that I can really relate to. Lisa is the main character of the book, and she is 10 years old. You might say, what's so interesting about a 10 year old girl? Well that’s when you're wrong. Lisa's life had change a lot when their parents died from a terrible plague that swept across the earth. And the weirdest part is, only kids who are 12 year old or younger doesn't get infected. But that’s what makes the story interesting.

Everyday, Lisa will have to search for
Katy St. Clair
Feb 19, 2009 Katy St. Clair rated it it was amazing
I bought this book at a funky, tiny used bookstore in like, baltimore, when I was a kid, and it quickly became The Greatest Book I Had Ever Read. I liked any book where the kids are forced to be independent and act like adults, and a plague that kills all the grown-ups was just the ticket! The protagonist has to learn how to drive a car on her own, something I totally dug... and she and her pals all holed up in a school and became lords of the city. It is satisfying to see so many people on here ...more
Nov 24, 2008 Tyree rated it it was amazing
This book is about a girl named lisa who lives alone with her brother Tom. When she was young her mother and her father died so they are living a terrible life. Thats not all, they are living in a neighborhood where there are gangs and stuff. Also there are only teenagers and kids because last year there was a virus that went around and killed all of the adults. So the all the stores are empty and they have to find out how to survive.
I can connect to this book because once there was a black ou
Nov 02, 2014 Chris rated it it was ok
One day my girlfriend was actually out of the apartment and attending some obligation without dragging me along . In strict accordance with her habits, she continuously suspected I was scampering about with a bevy of well-endowed trollops and expected to come home to our domicile to find it reeking like the summer of 69. In actuality, I spent a large portion of these three glorious hours reading pre-teen literature....

I can’t even guess as to when I first read this book but I think it must have
Apr 09, 2009 Estella rated it liked it
Considering the demographic for which this book was intended (preteens), it has some great things in it. Young readers will turn pages to see what happens next in this post-plague, children-rule-the-world society, where one girl, Lisa, emerges as leader thanks to her resourceful thinking, bold actions, and persuasive personality.

The children do everything from drive cars to perform minor surgery. They even defend their city using military force (beware of children using guns and dropping boilin
Dan Phillips
Nov 24, 2013 Dan Phillips rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Had a conversation with my mother-in-law this past summer trying to remember books I'd read as a kid, especially dark, post-apocalyptic ones. The Girl Who Owned a City was the one I remembered best -- or at least remembered LIKING best. That and the premise: A virus has killed everyone over the age of twelve, and now these kids in suburban Chicago have to fend for themselves. In the process of locating the book, I learned that its author was a big Ayn Rand follower, and his intent in writing TGW ...more
Nov 29, 2013 Elaine rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: 2013-11
I saw this book listed recently as one of several YA post apocalyptic titles. It sounded interesting and the concept was fine.

The writing however was stilted and the story line completely unbelievable.

Everyone over the age of twelve has died in less than a week due to a virus. The children are left alone and starving.

In less than a year, we are expected to believe that they not only survive, but thrive.

The book was written in 1975 and even for that time the gender roles are out of date. The gir
Dec 13, 2015 Tisya rated it did not like it
THIS BOOK IS UNREALISTIC!!!!!!!!! At one point they make a tunnel which should have collapsed because they made it with loose soil. Another time a 12 year old with no medical experience is able to heal a bullet wound in 2 days. They shouldn't have enough food and water to support about 500 kids for a year. UHHHHH!!!!!
Jenna Davis
Jan 24, 2016 Jenna Davis rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya, sci-fi, high-school
read this in high school and then again in 2015 when I rediscovered it on Jeff's shelves. Did not hold up to the test of time.
Jul 23, 2009 Megan rated it did not like it
Preachy, preachy, preachy! The book may well have been intended for the middle school set, but it’s written for third-grade reading comprehension. The characters are flat and/or totally out of their minds (I’m talking to about you, Lisa), the story is weak and barely supported, and the plot themes are completely unrealistic. If the author had brought the age of most of the kids up to, say, 15 or 16, the book would have been much more believable, and she could have utilized more dark, adult theme ...more
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