A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier
Publication date: March 4th 2014
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Number of pages: 288
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Source: Received in exchange for review. This is my honest opinion.
A deadly pandemic, a budding romance, and the heartache of loss make for a stunning coming-of-age teen debut about the struggle to survive during the 1918 flu.
For Cleo Berry, the people dying of the Spanish Influenza in cities like New York and Philadelphia may as well be in another country–that’s how far away they feel from the safety of Portland, Oregon. And then cases start being reported in the Pacific Northwest. Schools, churches, and theaters shut down. The entire city is thrust into survival mode–and into a panic. Headstrong and foolish, seventeen-year-old Cleo is determined to ride out the pandemic in the comfort of her own home, rather than in her quarantined boarding school dorms. But when the Red Cross pleads for volunteers, she can’t ignore the call. As Cleo struggles to navigate the world around her, she is surprised by how much she finds herself caring about near-strangers. Strangers like Edmund, a handsome medical student and war vet. Strangers who could be gone tomorrow. And as the bodies begin to pile up, Cleo can’t help but wonder: when will her own luck run out?
Riveting and well-researched, A Death-Struck Year is based on the real-life pandemic considered the most devastating in recorded world history. Readers will be captured by the suspenseful storytelling and the lingering questions of: what would I do for a neighbor? At what risk to myself?
An afterword explains the Spanish flu phenomenon, placing it within the historical context of the early 20th century. Source notes are extensive and interesting.
Trust me, it says something about a book when I can read it on a phone. This is the only book I have ever stuck out reading on my phone. So if minuscule text can keep my interest, surely that says something good.
Before starting A Death-Struck Year, I knew next to nothing about the Spanish Influenza. And I call myself a history nerd. So yeah, I learnt a LOT while reading this book and I enjoyed every minute of it.
This was one ride of a book. As you will see in the progress/status updates at the bottom of my Goodreads review. You will see that I thought that I nearly threw up my heart at one point. Lovely, eh? I was just stunned. It was horrible and shocking and I felt sick to the stomach for the characters.
Cleo was such a great main character because she was somehow likeable, even though she was stubborn and rather foolish. Somehow this only endeared her to me. She was brave and loyal, unafraid to stand up for what she believed was right. Even if she didn’t always choose the right path to achieve this.
The reason I’m docking off half a star is because at not one point in the book, was I a fan of the relationship between Edmund and Cleo. I just never really felt it. If you have read the book, hopefully you understand why I’m only leaving off half a star.
I was reading everywhere I could – and probably shouldn’t have.
I would recommend this to fans of historical fiction and to people with interest in the earlier nineteenth century. Or even if you just want a good book.
KABOOM! That onnly leaves one little continent. One little flaw.
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*This post was originally posted on my primary blog, Bookcomet.