“It started with a picture,” Lily told the detective. Time comes at the end of the historical fiction Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris when Lily must confess the truth. I read an advance reading copy of this book that is available for preorder and goes on sale on August 28 from Net Galley.
It had all started when eager young reporter Ellis Reed snapped a photo of a sign reading, “2 children for sale.” In the middle of the great depression similar signs in 1931 Philadelphia were heartbreakingly common with children sold to become nannies, maids, farm hands, or factory workers. With the help of the newspaper secretary Lily Palmer, Ellis gets assigned a feature article about the picture. When the picture is ruined and he has to stage a deceptive second one with a different family, his article goes viral as we would say today.
Other consequences when the brother and sister are sold to a family with mob connections lead Ellis and Lily on a mission to right things and reunite the family. Lily’s well-kept personal secret, her relationship with another reporter, and Ellis’s family conflicts are secondary to the dangerous track the two must follow to find the children and to right a success story gone very wrong. Kristina followed the oft-given writerly advice to put your hero(s) in hot water and then turn up the heat.
By the time the reader gets to the author’s note, it comes as no shock that inspiration for the book itself came from an old newspaper photo she stumbled upon with children on a staircase behind a sign saying, “4 Children; FOR SALE; INQUIRE WITHIN.” This is an excellent book for a book club read and discussion. It is ineffective as a bedtime sleep inducement and may result in a long night of repeating “just one more chapter.”