Monday, March 20, 2017


I asked my roommate to name a genre and said I'd review a book from that category.  She chose historical fiction and after listing the two books I'd reviewed, I remembered my favorite book set in the time of the Spanish Influenza.

The story takes place in a very tight-knit community in Chicago, 1918.  Hannah and her sisters live with relatives while their parents are unable to come home from the war.  Meanwhile, people in their building are falling ill and coming to her wise old relations for help.  There's no telling if or when Hannah's own family will fall prey to the influenza and what she will do if her worst fears come true.

I love this book on a number of levels.  Her family dynamics are well-written, showing both the respect Hannah has for her elders and the misunderstandings that come from the generational gap.  She has a complex love for her family, but also cares for people who are only related by address.  This is also a very realistic depiction of a practicing Jewish family and the near-familial closeness of those of their same faith reminds me of having lived in Provo, where most of my neighbors were people I saw on Sundays.

Mostly, I enjoy that the drama is almost entirely a matter of what-if and worst-case scenarios.  Fear can be related to very intangible things, but no less powerful than fear of an assailant or a weapon.  Hesse does a great job of focusing on things that are more terrifying to the characters than the war on distant shores.

No comments:

Post a Comment