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A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier

A Death-Struck Year

by Makiia Lucier

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Cleo Berry lives in Portland Oregon and she has heard about the Spanish Flu, first recorded in Kansas in an Army Camp, there are a variety of causes attributed to it (and apparentlly Ireland was pretty badly hit, or so I found during some quick checking, and I have to stop checking and wondering how my Grandfather managed not to get it, and not die). Young people are dying, often very quickly and without any real notice of sickness and she feels drawn to help. There she finds an interest in people, even if they keep dying on her.

The romance was sweet but I didn't really feel it.

It's interesting but I wanted more. Kept me up reading though. ( )
  wyvernfriend | May 20, 2017 |
This book surprised me, actually. It started out a bit slow, enough that I considered initially dropping it. But once the story got rolling, it was like a boulder going down a mountainside. The stakes got higher and higher as time went on and the horrible world of a pandemic sweeping society kept me on the edge of my seat. I'm so glad I kept with it!

The real treat in this novel is the main character. We get to see some real growth in her as a maturing woman who can't stop doing what she sees as right. I can see why the slow part in the beginning, illustrating her time in school and establishing her as a teenager, was necessary. It just makes the stark changes in her world and character all the more vivid as Cleo joins the Red Cross and does her part for stricken Portland.

The historical details were something else. From snippets on Victorian society to the devastating effects the illness had on daily life as well as one's trust in family and neighbors in such circumstances, this scary world was amazingly vivid. I enjoyed how the author showed us the effects the disease had on society as a whole and the intimate details on whole families wiped out or the effect lone survivors had while everyone else was sick.

The only thing I wished the author might have devoted more time on was Edmund's and Cleo's relationship. For a book being touted as a "romance", this book had a very lack luster one. As more than one of my fellow reviewers have pointed out, it's more a strong friend connection with perks than a timeless and all encompassing love connection. I could have wished for more development in that arena.

But as a whole, this book was a wonderful read. Full of wonderful historical details and with a main character that I grew to love as she matured, I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a touching and horrifying portrayal of Spanish Flu-gripped America. ( )
  Sarah_Gruwell | Jan 13, 2016 |
I was approved for this from netgalley and my copy will not open...I'm crying. I so wanted to read this!!! artgghgghghghghgh
  bookqueenshelby | Sep 9, 2014 |

Solid, middle of the line effort. I really liked the first few chapters, especially the bantering in Latin. I enjoyed the setup of scenery and characters. For a book that only covered about a month in total and spent about 20-40 pages on any particular day, it moved fast enough. It was engaging, kept my interest, and was easy to finish.

Some major things got in the way for me though:

*The romance. I love a good love story. I have never said this before and I hope to never say it again, but when Edmund was introduced and Cleo reacted, I could feel my eyes rolling and my lips mumbling "oh come on!" of their own accord. It would have gone down better if one of three things happened. 1. Edmund died. 2. In the panic and desperation of the epidemic/war, they had a quickie wedding or one night stand and had to work through the muck of the aftermath. 3. The book followed up with them both years down the road and showed that it amounted to nothing, that the romance that flared between them was sparked by the circumstances. It was special, but incapsulated in that time, never to be fanned to life again.

As it was, none of those things happened. Edmund was a perfect gentleman with no faults and everything going for him. He was immediately taken with her and promptly took up the role of solicitous fiance, making arrangements on her behalf and putting her best interests ahead of his own. The humor about the birth control pamphlet (fascinaing!) had me chuckling to myself, but nothing even came of that, despite being built up so much.

*Cleo herself. It was interesting to read about the spanish flu through the eyes of a 17 year old orphan of priviledge (strange indeed). But then Cleo morphed into a superhero, saving men, women, and children, scaring away burglers with a withering stare and idle threat, digging graves, and rescuing the nearly departed from the mortuary. Cleo's only faults, lying to her family and being reckless with her own health/safety, were not faults so much as "the indirect boast" (Jane Austen) because they were done for the benefit of others. I couldn't relate to her and she got on my nerves. Even when she made stupid, rash decisions that likely would have had serious consequences in real life, everything worked out.

*The death toll. While there were occasionally deaths, Cleo saved many more lives than were taken. Of her family and the primary characters, only one died. Doing the math from the historical notes, it seemed that only 1 in 15 died of the spanish flu (at least in Portland... really a 7% mortality rate? That can't be right... ) so I guess the lack of immediate characters succumbing wasn't inaccurate. But still, no one personally connected with her went down, with the exception of Margaret (we only meet her briefly in the beginning) and Kate (whom Cleo only knew for a few weeks and didn't even start to learn anything personal about her until just a few days before she died). Even the patients that were brought in- those who died got a passing line and those who slowly regained health were checked up on throughout the whole book. With the focus on life over death, it gave the impression that the spanish flu actually wasn't that bad. Which brought me to...

*The point. What was the point of the story? It was not a death-struck year, but a flu-ridden month. It seemed to me that Cleo was altered more by her personal tragedy as a child than by the events of either the war or the spanish flu.

( )
  lyssa73 | Aug 2, 2014 |
I received this book from first reads for a honest review. I loved the character of Cleo she showed a lot of maturity, strength and kind heartedness. "You wonder why I stay" I said."Sometimes I wonder too. But I hate to think of a child , of anyone really, lying somewhere sick and scared , waiting for help that does not come." This is my favorite quote and says a lot about Cleo's personality and what she has been through. I thought it was interesting that Cleo was reading a book in the beginning about famous american women and wondering what achievement or career she could have so that she would be influential woman . I think having the unselfish kind heart to help out the red cross during an epidemic even if it may seem in a small way makes her one of those women .This book also shows that you can tell a lot about a person during a crisis. Whether they go out of their way to help a stranger or desert their own family because of their illness. The ending did leave me wondering what is in store for Cleo in the future. Who will she marry? Will she go on to have a career in the medical field? ( )
  amym53 | Jun 23, 2014 |
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Herbst 1918 : Die Spanische Grippe hat die Welt bereits im Griff. Aber für Cleo ist sie weit weg, sie ist mit sich selbst und ihrer Zukunft beschäftigt: Heiraten, Bohemien werden oder an die Universität?
Doch die Gegenwart holt Cleo bald brutal ein. Die Seuche erreicht ihre Heimatstadt: Schulen, Geschäfte, Theater schließen - das öffentliche Leben kommt zum Stillstand. Und die Zahl der Opfer wächst: Nicht Kleinkinder und Alte, sondern vor allem Menschen in der Blüte ihres Lebens sterben. Als das Rote Kreuz freiwillige Helfer sucht, beschließt Cleo, nicht mehr untätig zu sein. Selbst wenn es den Tod bedeuten könnte.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0544164504, Hardcover)

In the grip of the deadly 1918 flu pandemic, not even the strong survive.

The Spanish influenza is devastating the East Coast--but Cleo Berry knows it is a world away from the safety of her home in Portland, Oregon. Then the flu moves into the Pacific Northwest. Schools, churches, and theaters are shut down. The entire city is thrust into survival mode--and into a panic.

Seventeen-year-old Cleo is told to stay put in her quarantined boarding school, but when the Red Cross pleads for volunteers, she cannot ignore the call for help. In the grueling days that follow her headstrong decision, she risks everything for near-strangers. Strangers like Edmund, a handsome medical student. Strangers who could be gone tomorrow. And as the bodies pile up, Cleo can't help but wonder: when will her own luck run out?

Riveting and well-researched, A Death-Struck Year is based on the real-life pandemic considered the most devastating in recorded world history, and leaves readers asking: what would I do for a neighbor? At what risk to myself?

A Spring 2014 'Indies Introduce New Voices' selection.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:01 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When the Spanish influenza epidemic reaches Portland, Oregon, in 1918, seventeen-year-old Cleo leaves behind the comfort of her boarding school to work for the Red Cross.

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