Of Better Blood

Susan Moger. Albert Whitman Teen, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8075-4774-8
After polio impaired Rowan Collier's legs, her highbred father and sister sent her to the Boston Home for Crippled Children. Several years later, in 1922, 16-year-old Rowan is reluctantly performing in the "Unfit Family" show run by the New England Betterment Council to highlight types of people (including polio victims like Rowan, who walks with a limp) worth sterilizing. Rowan gains confidence thanks to new friend Dorchy, and the girls eventually escape to Cape Cod, only to wind up working for the Council once again at an island camp in Maine. When clever Rowan discovers the deadly plans that the adults on the island have for the "unfit" young campers, she vows to stop them. The book's meandering first half means that it takes some time to reach the gripping island plot, but Moger (Teaching the Diary of Anne Frank) adeptly handles the novel's historical aspects and wisely avoids a too-neat resolution, given that eugenic beliefs and forced sterilizations persisted in this country long after Rowan's story ends. It's an engaging introduction to a rarely discussed piece of history. Ages 13–up. Agent: Kate McKean, Howard Morhaim Literary Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/18/2016
Release date: 02/01/2016
Genre: Children's
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