a good story that transported me to another time and place

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kristiew Avatar


This story was set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu of 1918 and is told from dual perspectives.

We have Pia Lange, who is thirteen at the time. She lives in a poor neighborhood with a lot of immigrant families. Pia's family is German and trying to make a good impression on the community. Due to the anti-immigrant sentiment of the time, her father has gone off to war. Pia, her twin baby brothers, and her mother attend the big Liberty Loan parade in order to impress upon others what good American citizens they are. Then, the flu hits their community hard.

Next we have Bernice Groves. Bernice is twenty years old and lives across the street from Pia. Bernice lost her husband to the war and her infant son to the flu. From the very beginning, she is intolerant and judgmental (at best) of the immigrants in her neighborhood. She displays all of the disgusting anti-immigrant sentiments of the time.

These two narrators have paths that cross many times throughout the story. I found myself worried for Pia and hoping things worked out for her. Meanwhile, I did not have any sympathy for Bernice as she displayed shocking and horrific behavior. I don't think I've ever disliked a character more.

I found the overall story to be engaging, but didn't love the mild almost magical realism aspect that was included in the story. I felt that it took away from the seriousness and sincerity of the book. This bit of unrealism was used a few times to move the story along. I also felt that some of the ending fell a little flat for me. Things were mostly wrapped up nicely, but there was one part that was somewhat unsatisfying.

Overall, this was a good story that transported me to another time and place for a while. A couple of Wiseman's other books have landed on my TBR, but this is the first I've read by her. I will be interested to read more of her work in the future.