PW #210: Middle Grade Contemporary Mystery: THE SECRET OF SAGAMORE HILL

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor: K.C. Held
Mentee: Patty Lenz Bovie
Category/Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Mystery
Word Count: 38,000


Twelve-year-old history fanatic Rebecca Finley is haunted by her Roosevelt historian father’s tarnished reputation and recent death. When Rebecca visits Theodore Roosevelt’s summer home on a class trip, a strange gravestone in the pet cemetery entices her to not only dig into the famous family’s past, but into her own. She ultimately discovers a long-kept secret and must decide what she’s willing to risk to reveal the truth.


I’ve been to Sagamore Hill a million times before, with Dad. But today I feel like a hermit crab without its protective shell.

“Stay with the group, Rebecca!” my teacher hollers from up ahead. Her tidy gray bun bounces up and down as my social studies classmates follow in her wake. But my feet feel like they’re plastered to the parking lot.

With her arms crossed, Miss Ricter tries again. “We don’t have all day, Rebecca! Let’s go. We’ve got a lot to learn about the Roosevelts.”

I know plenty about the Roosevelts. But I can’t stand here forever, so I force myself to peel my feet off the pavement.

As we head up the hill I see it—the huge house with its wraparound porch and green and white striped awning. It shelters a collection of weather-beaten rocking chairs that look out onto Oyster Bay, just like they did 100 years ago.

When we get to the house, my fingers clutch the chipped wooden railing and I drag myself up the steps through the front door. The foyer is the same as it’s always been—the musty smell, the dust that floats in the streams of sunlight, and the creaky, worn floors that are now covered with our scuffling sixth grade feet. Surrounded by these familiar smells and sounds, I quietly exhale. I’m going to be okay.


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