Queen of Hearts

Martha Brooks, Author
Martha Brooks. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-374-34229-6
Reviewed on: 06/06/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-88899-828-6
Ebook - 209 pages - 978-1-55498-221-9
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4299-6251-3
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When 15-year-old Marie-Claire and her younger brother and sister are diagnosed with tuberculosis, they are admitted to Quebec's Pembina Hills Sana-torium, where they separately struggle with the disease. In the 1940s, the only cure—according to Marie-Claire's nurse—is "rest.... besides eating properly and breathing in fresh air at night and during rest hours and, sometimes, surgery." Brooks's (Mistik Lake) premise may not instantly click with readers, but they will sympathize with the book's prickly heroine, who feels as though "my world as a normal person has just ended." Marie-Claire has many anxieties, from worrying about her siblings to fearing a grisly operation. But as Marie-Claire recuperates, she grows up, too, beginning a sweet romance with another patient and learning to support those she loves, even though "bad things happen and will keep on happening." Marie-Claire and her fellow patients' fears will be recognizable to contemporary readers—in a heartbreaking scene, another girl, Signy, wonders, "And who will love me?" And those worries gain real depth from truly being a matter of life or death, instead of just feeling that way. Ages 12–up. (Aug.)
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