Synopses & Reviews
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
"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. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Readers will be swept up in the story as Cleo builds friendships and manages to find hope amid disease and death." —Kirkus
"Readers will be swept up in the story as Cleo builds friendships and manages to find hope amid disease and death."—Kirkus
"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."
"Lucier has done her research, creating a compelling work of historical fiction alongside a more timeless journey of self-discovery."—Bulletin
* "The novel's strong voice intimately places readers directly into the dramatic plot right up to climactic ending. . . . Lucier's novel deserves a place in all high school collections."
—School Library Journal, starred review
"Lucier's debut details Cleo's loss of innocence, as she deals with gruesome deaths and emergency surgeries...supplying readers with a broad understanding of the era and the epidemic via a spirited and easy-to-relate-to protagonist."
"A rare window into another time and place, one that invites readers to draw parallels to their own lives in contemporary times."
—Horn Book Magazine
"Louisa and Eliza provide a window into a shameful history of mental health care and women's incarceration that only ended in living memory."—Kirkus Reviews
"The author tenderly and expertly builds a romance between Louisa and an attendant, Eliza . . . The surprisingly happy ending—in which Louisa escapes and confronts her accusers—is a welcome relief after all of her angst and despair."—Publishers Weekly
"Eagland does a beautiful job of depicting the "real" Louisa in the end, with an unusual twist on the conventional romantic denouement. Teens will identify with her."—School Library Journal
"Fans of historical fiction or GLBTQ fiction will likely enjoy this unique story of mystery and romance."—VOYA
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.
They strip her naked, of everything—undo her whalebone corset, hook by hook. Locked away in Wildthorn Hall—a madhouse—they take her identity. She is now called Lucy Childs. She has no one; she has nothing. But, she is still seventeen—still Louisa Cosgrove, isn't she? Who has done this unthinkable deed? Louisa must free herself, in more ways than one, and muster up the courage to be her true self, all the while solving her own twisted mystery and falling into an unconventional love . . .
Originally published in the UK, this well-paced, provocative romance pushes on boundaries—both literal and figurative—and, do beware: it will bind you, too.
About the Author
Born in Essex, Jane Eagland taught English in secondary schools for many years. After doing an MA in creative writing, she now divides her time between writing and tutoring. Wildthorn is her first novel, inspired by true stories of women who were incarcerated in asylums in the nineteenth century. Jane lives in Lancashire, England, in a house with a view of the fells.