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Palace Beautiful

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  706 ratings  ·  183 reviews
When sisters Sadie and Zuzu move to Salt Lake City, they discover an old journal in a secret room in their new house. Along with their neighbor, Bella, the girls take turns reading the story of a girl named Helen who lived during the flu epidemic of 1918. They soon become wrapped up in Helen's tale, which ends with a tragedy that has a scary parallel to Sadie and Zuzu's li ...more
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Published April 1st 2010 by Puffin Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,797)
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Marleigh
First line and a little: "My name is Sadie Evelyn Brooks." [...] That's what I wrote on the inside of my bathroom cabinet just before we hopped into the car to leave Texas for good. That way, even if it was just in the bathroom, I'd always be a part of the story of the house where I used to live.

Awesome quote:
"Is it a boy or a girl?"
"We don't know. Sherrie doesn't want to spoil the surprise."
"Hmm," said Bella. "I think it would still be surprising to have a whole person come out of your body wh
...more
Ofilia
This book is historical times two. It is set in the 80’s and is told through the eyes of 13 year old Sadie who lost her mother at an early age and is leaving her home in Texas with her bratty younger sister, Dad and sweet and pregnant stepmother Sherrie. They are moving to a big old house in Utah to be closer to their grandmother. She becomes instant friends with her across the street neighbor Belladona Desolation (aka Bella aka Kristen), who is a lonely girl largely unappreciated by her own mot ...more
Karissa
I picked up an ARC of this book at a book swapping site for the Debut Author reading challenge that I am doing this year and I am glad I did. This was a wonderful book. The writing style is what really sets this book apart from others I have read recently.

Sadie and her sister Zuzu have recently moved into an old house in Salt Lake City. Their step-mother is very pregnant and Sadie, who lost her mother during Zuzu's birth, is very concerned about what will happen to their new mother through this
...more
Jessica Harrison
Read full review at the Deseret News
Set in the Avenues neighborhood of Salt Lake City, "Palace Beautiful" makes a fun read for locals.

Debut author Sarah DeFord Williams' prose is lyrical and sophisticated without being stuffy. And she deftly captures that awkwardness girls face as they make their transitions to young women with an honesty that will resonate with readers.

Though set in Salt Lake City, the emphasis here is not on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, though there are a f
...more
Jessica
My neighbor, my friend, my VT companion, and now a published author. I am inordinately proud of her.
The story itself is one I wish I had known as a girl. I would have treasured this book at twelve years old. Even now I have learned from the characters Sarah created. I hope to accept my children for who they are. I hope to be, like Bella, a red bird from the apple tree, filling in the missing space in others' lives. And most of all, I hope to make our home and my arms a "Palace Beautiful" for our
...more
Heidi
I'm back and forth on this book. I was caught up in Helen's story, and wanted to know how Bella and Sadie's current situations would pan out. But I didn't really click with any of the characters except Helen. I got distracted by Sadie's colorful world, and I never quite clicked/understood her different birth stories. I was frustrated that the girls were trying to figure out what happened and going all over with "what if" when they could have just finished reading the journal!!! Parts of the stor ...more
Karen Ball
Sadie and Zuzu have just moved to Salt Lake City, Utah from Houston, Texas with their father and very pregnant stepmother, Sherrie. They've moved to be near Dad's mother, Grandma Brooks, and they've bought an old, well-kept house in her neighborhood. Sadie meets Bella, who lives next door with her neat-freak mother, and the three girls discover a small, hidden room in the attic of their new home. It's been decorated: the words "Palace Beautiful" are painted near the doorway, there's an old famil ...more
Emily Beeson
Palace Beautiful by Sarah DeFord Williams
Book Review by Emily

When Sadie's family moves to Salt Lake City, she discovers a secret room in the attic with a painted sign that says "Palace Beautiful". Inside, she and her new friend, Bella, find the diary of a girl who lived during the flu epidemic of 1918. When the journal ends suddenly, they find themselves caught up in the mystery. Did the girl die of the flu? Is she still alive? Did she lose the people she loved?

Meanwhile, Sadie's stepmom is preg
...more
Aine
I started reading this book having no clue what it was about. A writing friend of mine said she was enchanted with the story, so I picked it up from the library. Imagine my surprise – it’s written for a middle grade audience! I normally don’t care for middle grade stories, but this one is fabulous. It is about thirteen year old Sadie who has moved from Houston to Salt Lake City, and finds along with her younger sister and new friend an old journal in a “secret” room in the attic. As they read th ...more
AnnaBnana
Palace Beautiful is the story of 3 girls (2 sisters and a new neighbor) who discover a secret room and a journal in the attic of the sisters' new house in Salt Lake City. The girls make the attic space their own and go about reading the journal--but only a few entries at a time so they can savor the experience. They soon learn that the diary was written by 13-year-old Helen during the 1918 flu epidemic. The girls become fascinated by Helen and her family's story and go about trying to find her. ...more
Susie
There is much to like about this book, which unwraps like a mystery in two different time periods. As other reviewers have mentioned, the opening creation stories threw me a bit, but I really liked the use of descriptive color names as chapter titles. For once, even though a parent has died, there is a step-parent relationship that is totally loving and reciprocal. However, the relationship between neighbor Bella/Kristin and her mother seems just a bit strange and unexplained. (Why she wears the ...more
Christinapstanley
This book has wide appeal because it speaks to our hopes, fears, insecurities, courage, and most of all, love for family. Mystery, sibling rivalry, growing up, death, moving, making friends, and adventure are dealt with poignantly. The author's writing is clear, precise and powerful-no extra words. We read this for a book group with 2 boys, 4 women in their 20s-30s, a woman in her 60s and 2 women in their 70s-80s. Every one of us were powerfully touched. My husband and teenage sister also enjoye ...more
Rebecca
I liked this one quite well--interesting characters and heart-wrenching circumstances, well portrayed. A couple of things went over the top for me, though. The main character is artistic, but that didn't come through in much other than her way-over-the-top color names; they would have felt less precious if her artistic side had played more of a role. I was also puzzled by the myriad creation myths incorporated--I didn't know if the author were trying to convey that she was of Native American ori ...more
Ellie
Palace Beautiful is book with the theme of mystery. The reader will come to understand courage and bravery. This book mostly takes place in an attic of an old house that Sadie and Zuzu's family had just bought. Palace Beautiful is told in Sadie's POV but is switched to Helen's, the author of the diary. Sadie's perspective is limited. When Sadie's dad remarries and decides to move to a bigger house, Sadie and her nosey younger sister, Zuzu decide to explore. That is when they meet a new friend na ...more
Jenny
Read this with my children and we all really enjoyed it. It contains a story within a story. Two young sisters and their neighbor find a hidden room in the attic of their new home and the room says, "Palace Beautiful". They find a journal written by a young girl named Helen who lived in the house in 1918 during the terrible influenza outbreak. They read her journal and try to find out what happened to Helen and her family. It was especially fun that it is written by a local author and is set rig ...more
babyhippoface
Sadie and her family left Houston and moved to Salt Lake City, on the same street of old houses as her Grandma Brooks. While walking through the attic in their new home Sadie discovers the entrance to a crawl space in a corner. When she climbs inside she sees an old family portrait on the wall, a vintage necklace hanging with it; above the entrance the words "Palace Beautiful" are painted. The space becomes a refuge for Sadie, a place to paint and dream and just be alone. After discovering a jou ...more
Angie
Sadie and Zulu have just moved with their dad and stepmom into an old house in Salt Lake City, UT. They live down the street from Grandma Brooks and next door to Bella and her control-freak mother. While exploring their new home they discover a hidden room in the attic with a journal and the words Palace Beautiful written on the wall. The journal is written by Helen in 1918 and tells the story of her family during the influenza outbreak. The girls set out to discover what happened to Helen and h ...more
Rosemarie
The premise of this book is extremely enticing. In 1985, Sadie is moving to a great, big, old house in Salt Lake City with her Dad, her younger sister, Zuzu, and her new stepmom. Sadie and Zuzu and their new friend Bella find a crawl space in the new house's attic and in it a journal kept by a girl who lived in the house in 1918.

This idea really captures the imagination, yet I feel like the book didn't quite live up to all that magic. The girl in 1918 is going through a horrible time of epidemi
...more
Jean
I ordered this book for our library soley on the basis of knowing and liking the author's mother. I'm so glad I did. A well-crafted book that kept me engrossed to the end. (The foreshadowing was excruciating.) Since I grew up in an old house and always wondered about the former occupants it was fun to see how that idea could be molded into great historical fiction. Also,I usually just skip right over the chapter title so that I can get to the story. This was why I didn't notice for several chapt ...more
Makayla
Set in the 1980's, and going back to 1918, this book is historical fiction times two! Moving from Texas to Utah is an adventure. Sadie and Zuzu Brooks have just done this with their father and step-mother, Sherrie, who is very preganent. Sadie and Zuzu's own mother died giving birth to Zuzu, so Sadie is worried about Sherrie. After moving to Utah to be closer to there father's aging mother, Grandma Brooks, Sadie and Zuzu's family moves into a very old house. Sadie and Zuzu meet a new friend name ...more
Kristin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susan
One more author from Utah! I found this book compelling because I used to spend part of every summer visiting my grandparents who lived on a ranch in Little Cottonwood Canyon, just outside Salt Lake City. The main character in Palace Beautiful moves to Salt Lake from Texas in 1985. Sadie is not bothered by the move as much as her younger sister, Zuzu, but she has a lot on her mind, nevertheless. She still feels keenly the death of her mother and has a rocky relationship with Zuzu who is more vol ...more
Becky
This is such a cute story of friendship, with historical fiction and a story within a story all in one book. This book also appealed to me because it takes place in 1985 with the main character, Sadie, and her family moving to Salt Lake City. I was a year older than Sadie when I, too, moved to Salt Lake City in 1985.

I loved Sadie's personality, her deep thinking, love of art, and seeing the good in people.

A good read for middle grades or young teens.
Sandra Stiles
Sadie, her sister Zuzu, father and pregnant step-mother have moved from Texas to Utah. Sadie makes a new friend on her first day. The new girl tells Sadie her name is Belladonna Desolation but she can call her Bella for short. Bella tells Sadie to go into her attic that night and look out the window because she will be able to see the cemetery and some ghosts. The next day Bella brings a box of kittens and checks to see if Sadie had seen any ghosts. They go to the attic where they discover a cra ...more
Jen
I thought this was a fun book that was based on a journal some girls found in the house they moved into. I liked that even though it was set during World War One it didn't focus on that but on the influenza epidemic that was raging through the country at that time. I liked the relationship of the girls and the juxtaposition of the two stories, old and new. Also, it was fun that it took place in Salt Lake City and that the language was clean.
Eden
This is a really sweet book, written by a really nice lady who lives in my neighborhood. I would have died over this book when I was ten or eleven. It's perfect for middle-graders who like realistic fiction with some historical mystery and supernatural elements.
The plot is set in the 80s, but talks about the worldwide influenza epidemic of World War I. (It's also set in the Avenues in Salt Lake!)
My biggest problem with the book, other than some 1-D characters, was the journal entries that seem
...more
Asuka0278
I've been reading this book with my 8yr old daughter. We have both fallen in love with this book. We reached a point where I couldn't wait to find out what happened so I finished the book on my own. I LOVE this book. I love the way language is used in this book. Sadie describes things in"yarn colors" and that makes the book seem so colorful. I wanted to take Bella in my arms the moment we meet her in the book and just hold on tight to her. Zuzu is like everyone's annoying little sister but when ...more
Emily
I had meant to read this with Samantha but she just couldn't get into it so I read it by myself. Sadie moves to Salt Lake with her family consisting of: sister Zuzu, father and pregnant step-mother. The girls with neighbor girl Bella find a secret alcove in the attic complete with journal written by a little girl their age in the early 1800's.

I really liked how Sadie grieves for her mother but loves her stepmother who is warm and loving. I liked the ending a lot. The resolution with Bella and h
...more
Hanako
When Sadie and her sister Zuzu move to their new house in Salt Lake City they discover a hidden nook in the attic. They call it "Palace Beautiful" based on an entry they found in a journal from a young girl named Helen who lived in the house years ago.

This book was beautifully written. So beautifully written that at times I had trouble believing it was from the perspective of a 13 year old girl. I don't know many thirteen year olds that would describe chandeliers as "dripping with crystals."

Th
...more
Kate
Sadie moves to Salt Lake City from Houston and finds a journal in the attic that belongs to Helen, a girl who lived in the same house during the flu pandemic of 1918. Set in 1980's, for reasons on which I was unclear -- but at least it made it a little more difficult to research who Helen was for Sadie, her sister Zuzu, and her new friend Bella/Kristin, since they couldn't just Google. Funny usage of Jackie O. as the model of all beauty by Sadie's step-mother Sherrie, a Bonnie Mae beauty consult ...more
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