Monday, March 3, 2014

Title: A Death-Struck Year
Author: Makiia Lucier
Series: N/A
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group
Publication Date: March 4th, 2014
Source: Received from publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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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.

Do you know what's scary? This book, that's what. Not in your horror film way but in real life way. I kept thinking back to a few years ago when the whole swine flu thing was going around. I had a two year old at the time, and it was like a mad rush to get her to a clinic that had the vaccinations. The news stations were hyping it up like the end of the world. I know so people are anti vacs, but our family is all for them since my husband, MIL and SIL all work for hospitals.

I don't remember much about the Spanish Flu. Surely we must have learned a little bit about it in school, or at least heard of it in passing. The only memories I have about it are in books I've read over the years. So I can't really vouch for authenticity, but it sure as hell felt real reading it.

Cleo Berry is the main character and I adored her. I can't say I would be as good a person in her situation. She's everything good in the world rolled up into one little person. Her home town has been hit with the Spanish Flu, and she volunteers for the red cross. Guys, I'm no saint and I would probably say “F That!” and stay holed up in my house till it all blew over, but Cleo... she's amazing. She has her doubts and I liked seeing her struggle through what she was doing, but in the end she's such a good person, how can she turn away. The compassion she show's is heart warming.

She has her personal reasons for choosing to work with the Red Cross and that made me love her even more. There is a little hint of a romance, but its not what fuels this story. It's very much part of the back drop. Some of the situations Cleo goes through helping these sick people out, well it brought tears to my eyes and also made me gag.  (the flu is not pretty) I seriously want to research the Spanish Flu now.

I really liked A Death-Struck year. This was another book that I saw on Netgalley that I was unsure of but once again, I picked a winner. 

Makiia LucierAbout the author:

Makiia Lucier grew up on the Pacific island of Guam, not too far from the equator. She
received a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and a master's in library studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she studied literature for children. She's had plenty of jobs, mostly in libraries, and currently resides in the small college town of Moscow, Idaho.

Find Makiia:

Website | FacebookGoodreads


  1. I had a toddler also during the Swine flu thing and I didn't EVER take him out of the house until we were able to get the vaccination. I know that sounds extreme, but I was scared. A 6 year old died in the town next to mine, so I didn't think it was worth risking it (especially since he didn't NEED to go anywhere). But yeah I don't think I would do well in an pandemic and I prob would not be volunteering anywhere. I can't wait to read this book... it sounds super scary and really really good. I worked on a documentary this past summer about the Spanish Flu and it was very interesting and made me want to read more about that time in our history :)

  2. As readers, it's always great when we connect with an MC, especially when the MC makes choices that don't necessarily reflect our own character. I know I could never be as brave as Cleo, but I appreciate her courage. I'd love to read all about her, and I'd equally love to learn more about the Spanish influenza -- which I'm hoping has been thoroughly researched for the making of this story. :) Thanks for yet another wonderful review, April!

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

  3. Oh...not sure how I'll handle this. I watched a flu movie with my dad not too long ago (Contagion, I think, with Matt Damon, Gwenyth Paltrow and like STACKs of other famous people. They could probably afford it because everyone died. IT WAS A FLU MOVIE.) Ack. It totally freaked me out. >_< I don't think I'd rush out after this, just because I'm a wuss, but I'd totally check it out if I saw it at the library or something. The cover is sufficiently awesome. There's just a little squeak of terror in her eyes.

  4. I don't know if I could handle this book, but I really appreciated your thoughts on it.

  5. I was also skeptical about this one! I never read historical fiction but I'm glad I gave this one a sot, Cleo is such an amazing character and I respected her and her choices as well! Great review!

  6. So happy to hear you enjoyed this one! I picked it up yesterday from the library! =) I am SO EXCITED about it!


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