In my mission to read all the nominees for the 2014 Silver Birch Fiction Award from the Ontario Library Association, so far I’ve managed to read 7 out of the 10 books. If you’re interested in what I have to say about them, these are the ones I’ve read: Eldritch Manor by Kim Thompson, Nobody's Dog by Ria Voros, Ultra by David Carroll, The Curse of the Dream Witch by Allan Stratton, The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman and Record Breaker by Robin Stevenson.
Today’s Pick: Yesterday’s Dead
by Pat Bourke
Second Story Press, 2013
From the publisher:
Meredith struggles to cope during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918...
Thirteen-year-old Meredith yearns to become a teacher but must leave school to help support her family. To find the best paying job for a young girl of her class, she travels to the city to work as household help in a doctor’s home. From the start, her life is made difficult by the cantankerous and prickly butler, and confrontations with Maggie, the doctor’s spoiled thirteen-year-old daughter.
As the deadly Spanish Flu sweeps across the city, members of the household fall ill one by one. With the doctor working night and day at the hospital, only Meredith, Maggie, and Jack, Maggie's handsome older brother, are left to care for them. Every day the newspapers’ lists of “Yesterday’s Dead” add to Meredith’s growing fears.
This story hooked me from the beginning and held my attention all the way through. I was rooting for Meredith to make it through her struggles—first in coping with the difficult situation of leaving home to work and then in coping with the household and patients during the Spanish Flu. I didn’t know much about the Spanish Flu and its effects before, so it was interesting to learn about.
As a writer, I admired how the author made me feel almost like I was living in 1918. The details of the time period unfolded naturally through the story.
“Meredith half walked, half ran along the wide hallway of Union Station.”
“She scrubbed at the bowl as if she could rub homesickness off along with the tarnish.”
“Mama would say the good in people always evened out the bad in the end, but Mama wouldn’t say that if she met Parker.”
“We’ll just do the best we can,” she said, “and then pray that it’s enough.”
Pat Bourke lives in Toronto, Canada where she is working on her next book. She also works as a business editor.
On her blog, she talks about the benefits of a writing group: “Reading and critiquing the work of others is hugely important to becoming a better writer, and the better you get at writing, the more you’ll have to offer in terms of reading and critiquing.”
Yesterday’s Dead is her first published novel.
For more, visit Pat Bourke’s website.
You can find more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday books by checking out Shannon Messenger’s blog! Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the middle grade novels, Keeper of the Lost Cities and Exile (Keeper of the Lost Cities #2).