cover image The Orphan Collector

The Orphan Collector

Ellen Marie Wiseman. Kensington, $16.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-4967-1586-9

Wiseman (What She Left Behind) chronicles the devastation the 1918 flu pandemic wrought on a German immigrant family in Philadelphia. Pia Lange, 13, lives in a sparse Philadelphia apartment with her mother and infant twin brothers, Ollie and Max, while her father, a soldier who enlisted during WWI to prove his loyalty to the U.S., is fighting in Europe. When the flu hits the city in September, killing Pia’s mother, Pia cares for her brothers in their apartment until they run out of food. She then ventures out for sustenance, and doesn’t return until eight days later after falling ill with the flu. Upon her return, Pia finds her brothers missing and another family living in their home. Pia is taken to an orphanage against her will, and resolves to find out what happened to her brothers, holding out hope they are still alive. Wiseman’s depiction of the horrifying spread of the Spanish flu is eerily reminiscent of the present day and resonates with realistic depictions of suffering, particularly among the poorer immigrant population. Historical fiction fans will appreciate Pia and her pluck and determination to survive. Agent: Michael Carr, Veritas Literary Agency. (July)