Synopses & Reviews
Evvy Hoffmeister is thirteen years old when her family brings her to Loon Lake Sanatorium to get cured of tuberculosis (TB). Evvy is frightened by her new surroundings; the rules to abide are harsh and the nurses equally rigid. But Evvy soon falls into step with the other girls in her ward. Theres Sarah, quiet but thoughtful; Pearl, who adores Hollywood glamour; and Dina, whose harshness conceals a deep strength. Together, the girls brave the difficult daily routines. Set in 1940 at a time of political unrest throughout the U.S. and Europe, this thought-provoking novel sheds light on a much-feared worldwide illness. Hundreds of thousands of people died each year of TB, and many ill children were sent away to sanatoriums to hopefully recover.
Marsha Hayles' Breathing Room is a masterful novel—both eloquent and moving—that gives voice to those who fought hard to overcome the illness.
"Set in 1940 at a sanitarium in Loon Lake, Minn., this first novel from picture-book author Hayles (Bunion Burt) is an evocative piece of historical fiction. Thirteen-year-old Evvy Hoffmeister has tuberculosis and feels abandoned by her family when she's sent to the sanitarium to be cured. The cold nurses, strict rules, mind-numbing routines, and endless bed rest are dispiriting for Evvy and her roommates: kind Beverly, glamorous Pearl, and defensive Dena. 'Trying to stay alive at Loon Lake felt like it was killing me already,' says Evvy. Nonetheless, the girls find strength in each other and discover creative ways to bring cheer. Evvy bonds with a new roommate and a warm nurse, but the beginning of war in Europe and the constant deaths in the institution keep the patients under a dark cloud. Evvy's strong, emphatic narration gives voice to her resentment, isolation, and determination. Hayles's sympathetic characters and detailed account is complemented by historical documents and photos throughout. Readers will feel plunged into the book's intimate claustrophobic, even setting and immersed in Evvy's daily struggles. Ages 10 14. Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Marsha Hayles is the author of several books for young children. This is her first novel. She lives in Pittsford, New York, with her family.