I figured with the global coronavirus outbreak, this YA historical fiction read on the 1918 Spanish Flu couldn't be more timely! Teen Cleo Berry of Portland, Oregon sneaks out of her quarantined school and joins the Red Cross as a volunteer nurse, going door-to-door to save her neighbors. Experiencing first-hand the severity of the illness, Cleo sacrifices her well-being to save strangers.
Cleo is such an inspiration to humanity and I pray that there are more girls like her in the world right now. Her passion for helping people and doing the right thing no matter consequence to herself is enormous. I was so nervous for Cleo near the end! There is also surprisingly a lot of depth to Cleo, who ends up dealing with her traumatic past. Besides Cleo, it was the relationships that made this story extraordinary. The friendships and bonds that these volunteers made and the courage they gained together created the inspirational tone. Edmond is such a sweet guy, and I love the gradual increase in romantic intensity.
The amount of research and dedication the author spent on this is obvious, as the exact horrific details of the illness are described- I actually learned a ton about viruses reading A Death-Struck Year and I found it fascinating. The imagery of these people dying was astonishing and startling. I loved how this book managed to be very descriptive, but not too gory. One lesson I've learned from reading this book is knowing that viruses like the Spanish Flu and the Coronavirus pandemics are not the end of the world, despite how it may seem that way in the overwhelming moment.
I highly recommend you read this book!
Title: A Death-Struck Year
Author: Makiia Lucier
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Rating: 5 Stars