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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Ida and the Unfinished City by Carolyn Cohagan is the second book in the Lost Children series. Ever since a curse fell upon her, Ida has been stuck at the age of twelve and longs to be her actual age of sixteen. All she wants is to be taken seriously by others and to stop being treated like a child. Answers to her problems lie within the Unfinished City which enjoys destroying its own buildings in an annual flood. To add to the mystery of this strange city, Ida has heard about a possible cure that would allow her to age again, but no one seems to want her to receive the Treatment. As she navigates this Unfinished City, Ida finds herself in deeper trouble after she's tricked into destroying a statue that sets the whole town against her and puts her up against a threat to the city's plans for this year's flood. The story is rooted in her desire to find a cure and what drives her actions as she navigates the Unfinished City and its strange residents.
Ida's eternal youth creates an interesting basis for her attitude, always talking back, and feeling like she needs to prove herself to be taken seriously by others. No one takes her or her thoughts seriously; instead, she's treated like a child or a younger sister. Ida and the Unfinished City is a story driven by her need for a cure, set against the strange city that causes her more problems than she anticipated. This eccentric setting is filled with increasingly difficult obstacles that Ida faces, from no one wanting her to have the Treatment, to an act of vandalism that has the whole city against her. This quirky city comes to life through the vivid and clever details that Carolyn Cohagan weaves into it: strawberry soup, a mystery, humor, and a quest drawing you into this world. The story leans into the eccentricities of the city to bring the Unfinished City to life and sets Ida's journey into motion. At the foundation of the city is the yearly flood, an event that residents take pride in. Cohagan deepens the mystery as Ida finds out why the residents are evasive about her receiving the Treatment. Her quest for a cure becomes an action-packed adventure when Ida is pulled into the midst of a sinister plan against the city, introducing a variety of young characters that provide the right amount of chaos, humor, and heart. The eccentricities of Ida and the Unfinished City provide a fun homage to classic literature, in the vein of Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, with a girl cursed to never grow up and a city that has a madness all its own.