Happy book birthday to Stanley & Hazel, a fun mystery set in the 1930s! Today I will be sharing my review–thank you Chapter by Chapter, Month9Books, and Jo Schaffer for my eARC of the book. You can follow the rest of the tour by clicking the banner below!
Title: Stanley and Hazel
Author: Jo Schaffer
Published: May 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Like it
A great depression has gripped the city of St. Louis in 1934. Stanley, an orphaned newsy, lives in a poor part of town hit especially hard by the economic downturn. One night, Stanley runs into Hazel, a restless debutante in waiting who has begun to question her posh lifestyle in the midst of the suffering she sees. She’s out and about without an escort and against her father’s wishes.
When they discover the body of a girl with her head bashed in by a baseball bat, the very different and separate realities of the two teens inform their decision. Together they will figure out what happened to her and bring those responsible to justice.
But getting involved with each other and digging into the secrets behind this murder earns them some powerful enemies, including a secret group seeking to rid society of all they deem “undesirable.” They’ve put into motion “The Winnowing,” a plan seeking to take over the city and enforce their will.
As Stanley and Hazel’s forbidden feelings for one another grow, their investigation turns deadly. Now, it is up to Stanley and his gang of street kids to stop Hazel from becoming the next victim.
“Somehow, some way, even though they were from different worlds, they were on the same page. Stanley saw it in Hazel’s eyes.” (chapter 10)
Honestly, when I started to read this, it didn’t seem like something that would grab my interest. However, it didn’t take long for this opinion to change. As I continued to read, even only a fourth of the way in, I was hooked. What was going on and who were all these shady people? I had to know.
Hazel comes from a very high class society with rules and expectations. When she accidentally steps out of these rules by attending a movie unescorted, she quickly learns that things aren’t quite as black and white as she always assumed. Suddenly all these hungry, poor people from the lower class had faces and personalities and their struggles became real to her. What does this mean for the privileged life she has led up until now? Will she ever be able to go back to the way things were, and with her newfound friendship with Stanley, does she even want to?
Stanley is a fighter, not just physically, but he is also fighting for his dreams and his future. He refuses to let the hand he’s been dealt define how he lives the rest of his life. And gosh, he’s got such a heart of gold. While he fights for the truth and for his dreams, he’s also fighting for everyone else, protecting them and giving them a better future. He’s definitely not what Hazel expected, and he sure won me over pretty fast.
The rawness of classism and discovering privilege is so refreshing, even taking place at a time where it looked different than it does today. It’s still happening, it’s still relevant, we still innately judge what we do not know or understand. Books that commentate on classism are still so important in this day, and Schaffer creates that bridge, making a book about the 30’s relatable.
The gritty mystery and the stirring questions about privilege were what got me hooked, but the developing of Hazel and Stanley’s characters, their growth, and let’s be real, their blatant attraction to each other kept me going! I didn’t want to put this down!
Jo Schaffer was born and raised in the California Bay Area in a huge, creative family. She is a YA novelist, speaker, writer at Patheos.com, works in film production and is a Taekwondo black belt.
She’s a founding member of Writers Cubed and co-founder of the Teen Author Boot Camp, one of the largest conferences in the nation for youth ages 13-19. She and a crew of local and international bestselling authors present writing workshops to hundreds of attendees at the Utah-based conference as well as hundreds of others worldwide who view the conference online.
Jo loves being involved in anything that promotes literacy and family. She is passionate about community, travel, books, music, healthy eating, classic films and martial arts. Her brain is always spinning new ideas for books and sometimes she even gets around to blogging.
Jo is a mom of 3 strapping sons living in the beautiful mountains of Utah with a neurotic cat named Hero.
One (1) winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card and a digital copy of Stanley and Hazel by Jo Schaffer (INT)