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QUEEN OF HEARTS by Martha Brooks Kirkus Star


by Martha Brooks

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Aug. 2nd, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-374-34229-6
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

An absorbing and quietly moving coming-of-age story about a French-Canadian teenager during World War II who contracts tuberculosis, along with her younger brother and sister, and is confined to a local sanatorium for long-term care just before her 16th birthday.

"It's the second week of December, 1941, and my world as a normal person has just ended." Raised on a farm on the Canadian Prairies in Manitoba, Marie-Claire Côté always thought of herself as healthy as a horse (and something of a daredevil). Now, with a TB lesion on her right lung, she must adapt to day-to-day life at "the San," to "chasing the cure." She's smart, angry, speaks her mind and is tremendously worried about her siblings, particularly her beloved brother Luc, who is the most ill. Her uncommonly cheerful roommate, 17-year-old Signy, a wealthy girl from Winnipeg who was diagnosed with TB when she was 12 and is as "thin as a skeleton," declares "it's fate that I found you and you found me." As their relationship shifts, readers will be caught up by the choices Marie-Claire makes.

It's a testament to Brooks' fine and empathetic writing (Mistik Lake, 2007, etc.) that she's able to bring vividly and compassionately to life the parallel/alternate world of what Marie-Claire calls "TB exiles" and create an emotionally rich, stirring story about loss, friendship, love and healing. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)