Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Review: A Death-Struck Year, by Makiia Lucier

A Death-Struck Year is an emotional book about a very interesting period of U.S. history.

After recently reading In the Shadow of Blackbirds and seeing that A Death-Struck Year was about the 1918 flu pandemic, I knew I had to read it.

Once again I will remind you that historical fiction is my favorite genre, so my reviews are always biased because of that. But, I just absorbed A Death-Struck Year.

It's a very short book, but powerful. It moves fast (as the flu epidemic did) and slams you hard with the realities of the situation. Cleo has been staying at her boarding school because her much older brother and his wife (who are her guardians) are on a 6-week holiday. Cleo would much rather have stayed at home, but her brother would not allow it. When the flu comes to Portland, Oregon, all schools and public gatherings are cancelled. All the parents must pick up their students. If your parent can't get there, you must stay at the school.

Cleo's sister-in-law just found out she's pregnant, so they can't travel home to pick up Cleo. She can't stand the thought of being at school, so she escapes and goes home. All by herself. She's never had to care for herself before, but even the housekeeper isn't there. Cleo sees an announcement that the red cross is in need of volunteers to help with the pandemic, and she decides to sign up.

Cleo has a car and knows how to drive, so she is assigned the job of going door to door, handing out masks and information to the healthy and getting the sick to the hospital. She also ends up helping in the hospital. Along the way she makes some good friends, including Edmund, a young medical student who becomes the love interest.

But, this isn't a romance. This is a stark portrayal of the blood, gore, and death that surrounded the Spanish Influenza epidemic. Cleo is brave. Very brave. I don't know if I could have risked what she did and many who tried to volunteer ended up backing out. But Cleo didn't. She kept coming back every day to help.

A Death-Struck Year is emotional -- sad, happy, scary, repulsive. You name it. It's a short book, and reads very quickly. If you don't know much about the pandemic of 1918, this is an excellent resource. Or if you just want to know more. Or if you just like books about teens who are truly heroic. Great for reluctant readers. Highly recommended.

Published by HMH BFYR, March 4, 2014
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
288 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 5/5

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1 comment:

  1. Great review. I have been on the fence about this one. Sometimes historical fiction that is true to a historical event than a period gets me bored. I think I will have to try this one out though because I love emotional reads.


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