While measuring an old stagecoach inn's dimensions for a math project, new friends Shawna and Thea discover a secret room behind a pile of wood in the cellar. A seemingly nonsensical code covers the walls, and the two math whizzes are determined to figure out what the secret room was used for. Unfortunately, word about the room gets out, and soon the whole town is excited about the room they assume was part of the underground railroad. Knowing that there is more to the truth than the solution that seems most obvious, Shawna and Thea enlist the help of the historical society to try and prove what everyone else is just assuming. Not only is Shawna kept busy with the secret room's mysteries, she is also sifting through her family's dirty laundry, struggling to make sense of her estranged older sister Alice and the sideways glances being exchanged between her family members.
The Secret Room was an interesting double mystery, and the author did an excellent job of weaving the two distinctly different plotlines together. Shawna, the overweight eigth grade math whiz, and Thea, her new best friend, are unique and well described. Their thoughts and actions fit their situations very believably, and their reactions were exciting enough to keep me involved in the story. The plot itself went fast in teh beginning as they found the room and began to puzzle out it's significance, but slowed down considerably in the middle with a lot of non-action progress being made on the research. The end sped up with a terrifying search and rescue, as well as resolutions to the big mysteries. Not all the loose ends were tied up, however, and I was a bit unclear as to the final verdict on the secret room. All in all, The Secret Room was a good story, and gives an important lesson in fact gathering and research credibility. I would recommend this book for preteens and teens with an interest in history and realistic fiction.
Reviewer City, State and Country: Harleysville, PA USA