Monday, April 23, 2012

Book Review: Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks


Queen of Hearts
By Martha Brooks
What if you contracted tuberculosis and there was no easy cure? Martha Brooks (Mistik Lake) tells the story of one feisty teenager, Marie-Claire, who, along with her brother and sister, is unwittingly exposed to TB by a favorite uncle, and must move to a nearby sanitarium for treatment. Set during World War II and based in part on the author's experience growing up on the grounds of a TB sanitarium in Canada, Queen of Hearts paints a vivid portrait of life in such a facility before the discovery of penicillin, when "chasing the cure" meant bed rest and more bed rest.
This is not the kind of existence a girl imagines for herself when she has just attended her first dance, met a soldier leaving to fight in the war, and experienced her first kiss. Even worse, Marie-Claire and her siblings must separate, and her brother Luc's condition deteriorates quickly. Marie-Claire writes notes to her brother, and receives answers from his roommate, the young musician Jack Hawkings, also a patient in the sanitarium, for whom she develops feelings.
Marie-Claire has a tough time adjusting to life in the facility. Visitors are few, as most outsiders, including her mother, stay away. But TB or not, Marie-Claire must learn to grow up. And like most teenagers, she is curious about life and love. Is there life after TB? Is there love? From the very first page, Martha Brooks draws us into her narrative. Rich in sensory details, every word adds to this compelling picture of life on the Canada prairie. --Lynn Becker, host of the monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI, Book Talk. First appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers 10/18/11, reprinted with permission.

Discover: A compelling picture of life on the Canada prairie during WWII, with a teenage heroine coming of age in a tuberculosis sanitarium.         
Lynn Becker

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