My Rating: 3.5 hearts
Thoughts on the Novel: A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier is a historical fiction novel that examines the impact of the Spanish influenza in Portland during the months of October and November 1918. Since WWI was also occurring at this time, it would have been nice if Lucier had interwoven the effects of the war on Americans a bit more strongly into the story. That being said, I thought A Death-Struck Year was very well-researched, even if it did take me some time to get into the story.
Cleo, the main character, was very realistic. While I had my future planned out as a seventeen-year-old, unlike Cleo, I realized that I didn’t want to be a doctor or a geneticist once I went to university. This insight left me confused about what career path to pursue, and so I could relate to Cleo right from the start when she was complaining to her older brother that she didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life. I also liked that her decision to volunteer for the Red Cross wasn’t impulsive and that she got scared when confronted with her own mortality.
Additionally, Lucier did a really good job of showing how people’s reactions can vary during tough situations. Although many people volunteered for the Red Cross or helped neighbours and strangers despite the risk of infection, others abandoned their sick family members or took advantage of their neighbours’ misfortunes. I would have liked though for the deaths that occurred in A Death-Struck Year to have left more of an emotional impact on me.
Finally, I liked that the romance in A Death-Struck Year didn’t overshadow the plot. The subtleness of it was appropriate and realistic because both Cleo and Edmund, a medical student, were too busy taking care of the sick and dying to spend a ton of time together.
An informative read, A Death-Struck Year was released in March 2014 by HMH Books for Young Readers.
Comments About the Cover: The face mask makes it pretty memorable.
In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Thomas Allen & Son) for free.