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THE CURE by Sonia Levitin

THE CURE

By Sonia Levitin

Pub Date: April 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-15-201827-1
Publisher: Harcourt

Juxtaposing the past and the future, this potent story explores the societal consequences of diversity and individuality. It’s 2407 and the almost 16-year-old Gemm 16884 lives in a serene Orwellian society where the denizens are trained to believe that “diversity begets hostility,” and that psychological troubles can be banished by sipping on a serotonin shake. But Gemm is not like his kinsmen; he’s afflicted with ungovernable emotions and a “deviant” passion for music. To avoid being “recycled,” he agrees to undergo a frightening cure, a mind-adventure that will make the association of music and the emotions it engenders unbearable. He wakes up in 1348 Strasbourg, Germany, where he’s known as Johannes the Jew. Unlike the fairly standard rendering of the future, this part of the story, opening just as the Black Death begins to sweep through the population, fairly pulsates with energy and freshness; it is based on a real event and packed with spine-tingling historical detail. Johannes has to cope with virulent anti-Semitism in a society that is anything but tranquil. Levitin (Yesterday’s Child, 1997, etc.) cheats a little to give the future world an upbeat ending, but even so pulls off an unusual mix of science and historical fiction that is as suspenseful and as it is unsettling. (bibliography) (Fiction. 10-14)