Review and Giveaway: A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier

March 16, 2014 Giveaway, Reviews 17 ★★★★

A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier
Published by HMH Books For Young Readers on March 4, 2014
Genres: Historical FIction
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
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.

Cleo Barry is a normal high-school girl, with normal high-school girl-type concerns in Portland, Oregon in 1918.  All of her friends have their post-high school lives figured out: marriage for some, or college, or traveling.  But Cleo has “no plan.  No dream.  No calling.”  Her parents died when she was young, and her older brother, Jack, and his wife, Lucy, have guardianship of Cleo.  Jack and Lucy are headed to San Francisco for six weeks to celebrate their anniversary while Cleo remains behind, presumably safe at her boarding school.  The deadly Spanish Influenza has begun to hit cities on the East Coast, but in the early twentieth century, that seemed a world away.  But when murmurings of an outbreak in Portland begin, panic breaks out.  Schools and churches are shuttered, and all public gatherings are banned.  Since Cleo’s guardians are not available to care for her, she must remain quarantined in the school until the ban is lifted.  Instead, Cleo sneaks out and heads to her empty home.

Cleo finds the meaning in her life she’d been seeking when she joins the Red Cross.  Hospitals and medical professionals are stretched thin due to the number of infected people, so volunteers like Cleo are critical.  The idea that she could become sick seems not to be a major concern for Cleo, as she is more interested in saving those who can be saved and providing comfort to the dying.  It’s hard to read a work of historical fiction set in such a terrifying time as this and not think, “What would I have done?”  Some people locked themselves away, praying for the epidemic to pass, some abandoned their dying family members, and some, like Cleo, exhibited an enormous amount of bravery.  As terrible as the epidemic was, it would no doubt have been much worse without the help of volunteers who risked their lives every day.  I appreciated this fictional story of one girl who represented all of those brave volunteers.

Cleo has a very quiet romance with a WWI veteran and medical student named Edmund.  It is not the centerpiece of the story, however, and Cleo is allowed to grow and mature and find purpose in her work.  Maybe “romance ” is too strong a word for this relationship; sweet, affectionate friendship might describe it better.  In either case, it doesn’t define Cleo, and the lack of the usual, “romance-y” trappings highlight the fact that Cleo needs more than a few kisses to give her life meaning.

Note: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This giveaway is open to US residents 13 and older.  Also be sure to stop by my giveaway for an ARC of Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott.
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Stephanie

17 Responses to “Review and Giveaway: A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier”

  1. Brittany T

    Any type of illness that would make it hard to breathe. I feel like that would be the worst thing ever!! I love historical fiction but they are extremely hard to read through tragedies. Thanks for another great review and giveaway!

  2. Mckenzie Templeton

    Ooh… Tough question. I feel like any illness where you get sick constantly and maybe lose consciousness would be terrible. I hate getting sick, so any kind of pandemic is terrible!

  3. Amanda P.

    The most nightmarish disease I could imagine would probably be something like a mixture of skin lesions, hard to breathe, and all of those cause major mental issues like seeing hallucinations and causing schizophrenia and other characteristics of psychosis.

  4. Natasha

    I think the most nightmarish would be constantly vomiting, skin rash, having trouble breathing and having a fever.
    Thanks for the chance to win!

  5. Joyousreads

    Definitely some conflicting reviews for this book so far; but I’m interested enough because I’ve always been a fan of books (and films, for that matter) that pertain to a contagion.

    Really glad you enjoyed it, Stephanie. Most of the grumblings about this book is the romance (or lack thereof), but I definitely understand why it was very subtle.

    Great review, as always!
    Joyousreads recently posted…Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 103My Profile

  6. LeKeisha Thomas

    Oh wow, I really want to read this. Worst symptoms for a disease? Um, I’ll go with all of your internal organs shriveled up and when your fever reaches the max, right before you die, you throw them up. Ugh, I am so wrong for this! Lol

  7. Pili

    This one sounds like a book I’ll enjoy, maybe even more than the regular person since I’m a nurse and all. And I’m glad to hear that if there’s romance is very minimal!
    Great review!
    Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #34!!My Profile

  8. Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

    The worst, nightmarish disease would have to be something that is physically horrible while leaving your mind completely intact. Like, not being able to move, having a head to toe rash that you could not do anything about, excruciating pain, and being completely aware through the whole thing. I am shuddering just thinking about it! But this book sounds very interesting!

  9. Bailey

    I think that the worst disease possible would turn you into a zombie once you were dead. It would be awful for the family and friends of the dead; they would have to deal with the friend dying and then the friend trying to kill all of them.

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