A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre: Historical Fiction and Young Adult
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Pages: 288 (Hardcover)
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?
First of all, I would like to thank the Publisher, HMH Books for Young Readers for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.
I’m conflicted about how I want to review this because of the historical aspect. Most people know about the Spanish Influenza and I think that the author relied heavily on this because there isn’t very much talk about it nor about Cleo’s background. However, it’s a fairly strong novel and I can’t wait to see what Lucier comes out with next.
A Death-Struck Year starts out actually quite boring. I felt myself quickly lose interest and shaking my head saying, “this is why I don’t read historical fiction!” Until well into the novel when things quickly started to pick up. Cleo and Jack are siblings and of course they care for each other but I would have liked some more of a background story to their relationship, they felt more like good friends than family to me.
Cleo Berry is one hell of a character. She’s strong and committed, doing things that many people would never even think about doing. I loved the relationship between Cleo and Edmund because of how well done it is despite the times where is felt contrived, it’s realistic and doesn’t take over the story. In fact, all of the characters are realistic and were fun to read about their different lives and how they all came together to help those in need. Another thing that I enjoyed was the writing, it’s fairly smooth and Lucier effortlessly added the right amounts of emotion to her work to make things shift in her favour.
Overall, I was shocked by how well written this novel is and how much it exceeded my expectations. As a person who never reads anything historical fiction outside of school, I think that this novel has open my eyes to see that some historical fictions are quite well done and realistic. I recommend this to anyone who knows about the Spanish flu and love historical fiction novels that are realistic and don’t have a lot of romance to it.
For quotes from this book, click here.