Secret City, USA

From ChildLitWiki

Jump to: navigation, search


by Felice Holman

Buy from Amazon


Bibliographic Data

Original Publication Date:
Hardcover Price: $
Paperback Price: $
Number of Pages:

Best for ages:

Library of Congress Descriptor: Against all odds, Benno and his friends in the ghetto turn an abandoned house into a shelter for the homeless.


Best of Year Lists:

Review Citations:


Type of Book: Chapter/Fiction


Topics and Themes: , Poverty, City, Homeless, Kids Who Save the Day, Changing Lives, Summer



Holman's newest story is “Secret City, U.S.A.” (Scribner's, $13.95 hardcover). While it tends, at the end, to lose some of its gritty realism and fall a little too pat, it is an intriguing and exciting story of pioneering in the blighted urban moonscape of burned out buildings. Told in the present tense, with short, mystical statements on city life prefacing each chapter, it is the story of Benno, an inner city boy who discovers an entire area of the city which has been abandoned. The buildings are crumbling and blasted, and the only inhabitants are packs of wild dogs and one lonely and half-crazed old recluse. Benno conceives the idea of fixing up one of the buildings for some of the homeless children he knows around the neighborhood. Despite threatening gangs and many other problems, Benno and his friends find the work somehow transforming; when they are in ‘The Space,’ their name for the whole area, they gain a purpose, a comraderie, and a cooperativeness they lack elsewhere. But as their project expands over the course of a summer, and comes to involve more and more children, it becomes simultaneously more dangerous and harder to keep hidden. -- Matt Berman, The New Orleans Times-Picayune and Children's Book Award Annual’‘


Publisher Info and Jacket Copy


Other Editions


Personal tools