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A Death-Struck Year
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A Death-Struck Year
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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,...
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,...
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  • 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.

    A Spring 2014 Indies Introduce New Voices selection

About the Author-

  • Makiia Lucier's journalistic skills shine in this riveting historical fiction debut. She has a master's degree in library and information science from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, where she studied literature for children. She lives in Moscow, Idaho, with her family.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 3, 2014
    Lucier strikes an appropriately sobering tone in her debut novel, about the 1918 Spanish influenza outbreak. Seventeen-year-old orphan Cleo Berry describes the gruesome day-to-day realities in Portland, Ore., as disease ravages her community, brought by contagious visiting soldiers. Resourceful and empathetic, Cleo joins the Red Cross volunteers, distributing informational pamphlets and masks, and seeing to "unattended cases," saving three lives on her first mission. With her brother and his pregnant wife stuck in San Francisco, Cleo befriends fellow volunteers at the transformed Public Auditorium, learns self-reliance, and assists in horrifying medical procedures, while discovering the ambition that aids in her will to survive. Lucier gracefully provides historical verisimilitude with references to bob haircuts, the spread of knowledge about birth control, wartime food shortages and inflation, and the traumatizing effects of the draft. Highly sympathetic characters, a solid sense of place, and the transformation of a city under siege by an invisible assailant result in a powerful and disturbing reading experience. Ages 12–up. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary & Media.

  • School Library Journal

    April 1, 2014

    Gr 8 Up-Seventeen-year-old Cleo Berry frets over an uncertain future devoid of plans, dreams, and ambitions. However, when the Spanish influenza strikes her hometown of Portland, Oregon, she does not hesitate to volunteer for the American Red Cross. Lucier's vividly accurate description of the 1918 pandemic will make readers tremble over the teen's fate, wondering whether she will be next on the list of victims. Cleo faces the ultimate dilemma: Given a choice between herself and others, who will she choose in the face of calamity? The pace of the writing is swift, and the author spares little in her account of those afflicted and others who sacrificed their own lives to help save them: loved ones and strangers burying individuals on their own without burial societies, members of the Red Cross going door-to-door in search of the sick, and young people dying as easily as their elders from the disease. This first-person narrative is as much Cleo's coming-of-age story as it is a full historical account of the pandemic. The novel's strong voice intimately places readers directly into the dramatic plot right up to climactic ending. Nothing is sugarcoated, making this a difficult pick for the squeamish, who may not easily tolerate the abundant flow of blood and raging fever throughout. The mood of almost hopeless desperation that mounts toward the second half of the book cannot be readily shaken off. In the same vein of Laurie Halse Anderson's Fever 1793 (S. & S., 2000), Lucier's debut novel deserves a place in all high school collections.-Etta Anton, Yeshiva of Central Queens, NY

    Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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