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3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  266 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
It's the spring of 1851 and San Francisco is booming. Twelve-year-old Amelia Forrester has just arrived with her family and they are eager to make a new life in Phoenix City. But the mostly male town is not that hospitable to females and Amelia decides she'll earn more money as a boy. Cutting her hair and donning a cap, she joins a gang of newsboys, selling Eastern newspap ...more
Hardcover, 327 pages
Published September 3rd 2009 by Viking Juvenile
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Newbery 2010
51st out of 103 books — 541 voters
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Historical Children's and YA with LGBT characters
13th out of 106 books — 50 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jul 17, 2014 QNPoohBear rated it really liked it
Twelve-year-old Amelia Forrester is excited to arrive in San Francisco after a very long voyage from Boston. It's 1851 and there are all sorts of new possibilities for women in California that were not available in Boston. For Amelia, it also means a new start where no one knows she doesn't have a father. Amelia's mother and friend Estelle plan to open a dress shop, but they soon discover that gentlewomen are scarce in San Francisco and girls are still limited by their sex. Amelia won't let that ...more
I finally read this. It's been getting critical noteworthy buzz for a while now. My thoughts...It delivers a lot of sensitive subject matter very intelligently... I wish it were a little better. Let's process.

"Newsgirl" is a historical fiction set in the Gold Rush period of San Francisco. It follows young Amelia, her mother Sophie, and her mother's life partner, Estelle, as the trio journey to San Fransisco to open a ladies dress shop. One thing after another occurs to the family as they try to
Anastasia Tuckness
Read for a 2nd time for Battle; still don't like it much honestly! I think it is stilted and the writing gets in the way of the action.

(Jan 2010) It took me awhile to get into this book. I thought the author's style was a little stilted and the characters aren't very well developed. However, those (prob. girls) who enjoy historical fiction with a bit of adventure will like it, I think.

Set in San Franscisco during the gold rush, it tells the story of Amelia and her adventures trying to settle int
Abby Johnson
Dec 11, 2009 Abby Johnson rated it it was ok
When Amelia arrives with her mother and her mother's friend in San Francisco, they are looking for a new start. Little do they know that life will be so very different in this new, western town. Life is hard for the few women in this dusty town and Amelia must dress as a boy to sell newspapers and earn money.

I so wanted to love this novel, but it just moved too slowly to be entirely enjoyable. There's a great deal of historical detail and a wonderful author's note, but I just didn't find the cha
Wonderful story set in San Francisco during the gold rush. Amelia is a fabulous main character, the girl who dresses like a boy in order to earn money for her family - which consists of herself, her mother, and her mother's partner Estelle. Bonus points for the gay! I love how there's never a big deal made about her mother and Estelle either, yet it's also made quite clear that they are a couple.
An adventure story that takes place during the California Gold Rush. Although Amelia, the plucky, gender-bending heroine, is appealing, the plot was muddled and somewhat repetitive (e.g., multiple encounters with newspaper editors, multiple rescues by ruggedly independent women or token ethnic characters who appear as if by magic). The device of having Amelia and a friend spirited out of San Francisco to Gold Rush territory by the accidental release of a hot air balloon felt forced. In an author ...more
Abby Eck
Oct 26, 2014 Abby Eck rated it it was amazing
Awesome... with a perfect amount of adventure
Aug 04, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: tweener-lit
Read for professional review. Sound hist. fic. for tweeners with a nod to nontraditional families thrown in. Well done, Liza Ketchum!
Tasslyn Magnusson
Mar 15, 2015 Tasslyn Magnusson rated it it was amazing
The relationship of Amelia's moms and the historical fiction is beautiful.
Beth G.
The year is 1851, and 12-year-old Amelia Forrester has just arrived in San Francisco from Boston. Her family is looking for a new beginning, but things are not turning out to be as easy as they might have hoped. San Francisco is a rough-and-tumble town full of miners, hopeful miners, and the families of miners out in "the diggings". A rough crossing through Panama forced her parents to dip into the money they had saved to get settled, and while there are plenty of ways for a young boy to earn so ...more
May 25, 2010 Raina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: j, historical, realistic, gltbq
The longer I think about this book, the more I like it. In a world dominated by (awesome) speculative fiction, this is a solidly researched historical fiction novel. Amelia is a young girl just arriving in San Francisco during the Goldrush. She, her mother, and her mother's friend are moving there so that the women can start a dress-making business in the burgeoning city. But starting out in a new city, before their house-on-a-barge arrives, is hard. So Amelia takes it upon herself to make cash ...more
Jun 02, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It's a fast-paced adventure story, an interesting window into life in San Francisco during the Gold Rush, and a coming-of-age story. Protagonist Amelia is a strong girl who chafes against the restrictions society places on girls. Her mother is much the same, and although they often argue about what's appropriate for Amelia to do, their love for each other is fierce and enduring. Her mother's "friend" Estelle rounds out their family. (Although the relationship between ...more
Jan 06, 2013 Nora rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book. A female lead character? Check. A story set during the Gold rush? Check. Something I would love to read again? Err... no.

First of all, the writing seemed to become preachy towards the end. It was all about the feminist movement.I felt that it pushed it much to strongly through the entire book. I understand I mean we have a girl dressing up as a boy because she will be able to make a living... but really do you have to keep drilling it? Very repetitive.

Jul 30, 2010 Nielson rated it liked it
Amelia Forrester is one spunky girl. But it is her spunk that enables her to survive the rough-and-tumble town that early 19th century San Francisco proves to be. After Amelia, her mother, and dear family friend, Estelle, move from the East Coast to the West Coast, Amelia finds out that being a girl comes with disadvantages in this town. But despite the fact that she is a girl, Amelia finds a way to make her way as a dressing as a boy! With her newfound freedom, more opportunities ...more
Jul 05, 2012 JennLynn rated it it was ok
This book is basically well-written and provides interesting insight into life in early San Francisco but the more I read it the less I liked it. With every chapter it became increasingly improbable. I mean being shipwrecked and becoming a newsboy and going up in a hot air balloon and nearly being shanghaied and becoming a published writer and surviving a devastating fire ... it's all way too much to happen in the space of a few months even for the most intrepid boy, let alone a girl. It's as if ...more
Aug 06, 2011 Tina rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-summer
After arriving in San Francisco, Amelia Forrester quickly realizes that in order to survive and help her mother & family friend, Estelle, she must dress & act like a boy. Amelia's love of the written word and newspapers serves her well in this endeavor. She soon realizes after landing that she will be able to put coins in her pocket by selling the newspapers they packed with - people in California are "starving" for news from the East Coast - even if it is several months old. Amelia soon ...more
Apr 06, 2014 Heidi rated it really liked it
For a young adult book, I thought this was a great read, especially for girls. Amelia is a great role model in this historical fiction novel, as she is someone who won't let boys push her around and is determined to help her mother and family friend get settled as they arrive in San Francisco in 1851.
William Clemens
Apr 26, 2010 William Clemens rated it liked it
Liza Ketchum not only writes J-Fic, but she teaches it, and that's how the first half of the book feels.

Ok class, historical fiction, throw in some true details, add some flair, introduce characters who express the views of the day. Oh it's for kids so make sure the chapters are short and repeat details so as not too confuse. Voila!

I was totally prepared to hate this book and stop at about the 120 page mark, but I pressed on and thankfully things improve. The story actually starts to flow and t
Apr 08, 2014 Lupine rated it really liked it
Great historical fiction for older elementary/tween with a lot of action. The historical details are excellent and Amelia is a spunky and interesting character. There are some mature themes alluded to (sex) but aren't at all explicit and there are some deaths. Racism and sexism are also addressed. Also, Amelia's parents are two women, though this only incidental to the story.
Jul 30, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing
This was another good historical fiction read for the summer. I like this one and will buy one for my elementary library. The main character, Amelia, is 12 and many of the children in the story are her age. I like the way so many aspects of mid-nineteenth century history are rolled into one book... gold-rush, women's rights, immigrant prejudice, child labor, and family issues. I found the pace to be good for historical fiction. It wasn't too dry or slow. I won't have lots of fans of this book at ...more
May 23, 2015 Suzanne rated it really liked it
Really fun YA read about a young girl fighting conventions in San Francisco in the 1850s. Amelia was a kickass protagonist who made me smile the whole way.
Jul 08, 2014 Lily rated it liked it
I liked it. Just a bit below my normal reading level, and moved a bit fast for me. Eh. I don't really mind. It was a pretty good story.
Jul 15, 2011 Linda rated it did not like it
This book caught my eye and the cover suggested it had tons of potential...a girl arriving in California during the gold rush time gets in with the newsboys to make money for her mother and the her female friend. It had lots of potential for a very thrilling story and with lots of historical backing which is a huge draw for me (you could tell the author had done her research too). Unfortunately, the story was simply too much, too many back to back adventures that made the story rather unbelievea ...more
Katy Bellamy
Jan 27, 2016 Katy Bellamy rated it it was amazing
This is a great book with a lot of mystery involved. I suggest this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or mystery. :)
Mark Richards
Nov 23, 2014 Mark Richards rated it really liked it
Fun book with great historical info. The descriptions of gold rush San Francisco are excellent. Great read for 4-6 graders!
Jun 01, 2010 Phoebe rated it it was ok
12-year-old Amelia arrives in gold-rush era San Francisco with her unconventional family, practically penniless but with big plans. Her mother and Estelle plan to open a dress shop, but it's Amelia who gets them a place to live and their basic needs fulfilled during their first weeks in the city. She dresses as a boy in order to sell newspapers, but her biggest adventure happens when a hot air balloon accidentally takes off with her inside. This book will appeal to upper elementary and young tee ...more
Sandra Stiles
Nov 29, 2009 Sandra Stiles rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grades
This is historical fiction at its best. Amelia Forrester is a twelve year old girl who has moved with her mother and a family friend from Boston to San Francisco. Her mother has plans to make men’s clothing. Amelia, trying to sell the Boston newspapers they had packed all their belongings in has found it is a man's world. Combat this issue she cuts her hair and dresses like a boy. Kids have an opportunity to learn a lot of period history including how women fought for equal rights. I believe the ...more
Meadowbrook School
Feb 17, 2016 Meadowbrook School marked it as to-read
Shelves: grade4, grade5, grades6-8
Good historical fiction
Jun 18, 2011 Michelle rated it liked it
I liked the era and the setting for this historical fiction book but the writing left me shaking my head at times. I think elementary students wouldn't notice the over-the-top presentation. I thought it was a bit excessive to have everything under the sun happen to Amelia and her family. I thought her mother and Estella's relationship was wonderful but seemed to fit in almost too well. Nobody seemed to question their relationship. As role models I applaud Amelia and her two mothers for breaking ...more
Linnea Hendrickson
Oct 26, 2009 Linnea Hendrickson rated it liked it
I have a lot of thoughts about this book. I wish it had been better. There seemed to be just too many things happening in rapid succession to be believable. But, even though I didn't like that aspect of it from the beginning, I had to finish it because I did care about Amelia/Emile and wanted to know what happened. I think the gender issues were interesting, but not sure the treatment of them completely succeeded, either. It was fun to read.
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Also writes under the name Liza Ketchum Murrow.

Virginia Jefferson Cup Honor Book, Virginia Library Association, 1988, for West against the Wind; Children's Choice selection, 1989, for Good-bye, Sammy; best young-adult novel designation, American Library Association, 1990, and Mark Twain Award listee, 1991-92, both for Fire in the Heart; Mark Twain Award listee, and Sequoyah Award listee, both 1993
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