YA Realistic FIC – When I Am Through with You; Thing with Feathers; St. Death; Sunshine is Forever

Kuehn, Stephanie. When I Am Through with You. Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2017. 978-1-101-99473-3. 304 p. $17.99. Gr. 10 and up.

Unreliable from the start, Ben tells the story of what happened on the mountain in his own way, on his own terms, and apparently from his prison cell. So begins Ben’s story and how he got to be on the mountain to begin with.  Suffering from migraines and depression and being the only caregiver for his unwell mother, Ben feels trapped by his life in Teyber. He reconnects with former teacher Mr. Howe to help with the school’s orienteering (exploring) club.  Rose, Tomas, Avery, Duncan, Clay, and Archie join Ben on the first hike into the wilderness. Tense from the start, this group seems to be on a doomed trip. It’s not until the end that readers see just how doomed these adventure seekers are. THOUGHTS: Drinking, drug use, descriptions of casual sex, and violence make this a book for more mature teens.

Realistic Fiction, Adventure       Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD


Hoyle, McCall. The Thing with Feathers. Blink, 2017. 978-0-310-75851-8. 304 p. $17.99. Gr. 9 and up.

Emilie is perfectly fine staying in the safety of her home with her mom and best friend (her seizure dog). She disagrees with her mom and her therapist: attending public school is not a good idea. She doesn’t want to be known as “that girl that has seizures.” When Emilie starts school, she makes a decision not to tell anyone about her epilepsy. As she gets closer to her friends and a boy she’s paired with her decision not to reveal her medical condition becomes more and more critical. But it’s been months since Emilie seized, so she’ll be okay, right?  THOUGHTS: Readers will fly through this light-hearted and realistic sweet novel about what it means to be different and what lengths we will go to hide our differences. With a compelling storyline – Will she or won’t she tell? Will she or won’t she seize? – readers will fall in love with Emilie as she experiences public school, friendship, and first love.

Realistic Fiction     Maryalice Bond, South Middleton School District


Sedgwick, Marcus.  Saint Death.  Roaring Brook Press, 2017 (1st American ed.).  978-1-62672-549-2. 227 p.  $17.99.  Gr. 9-12.

Arturo lives in a shack on the outskirts of Juarez, a Mexican city that butts up against the American border. One day, his childhood friend, Faustino, shows up begging for Arturo’s help. It seems that Faustino has joined a gang and has stolen $1,000 from his boss to send his girlfriend and her baby to America. He must replace this money by the next day or he will be killed. Arturo, a skillful card player, agrees to try to win the money back, but soon finds himself in even more debt. Now, Arturo’s life is also on the line. He scrambles to replace the money both he and Faustino owe before they are both killed by gangsters. Fast-paced and devastatingly honest, this title by Printz award winner Sedgwick is an excellent addition to high school libraries. THOUGHTS: Focusing on taboo topics like religion, illegal immigration, human and drug trafficking, and the exploitation of foreign workers by large corporations, this title is sure to spark a great deal of discussion and debate. Because violence is addressed in such an uncomfortable and unflinching manner, this title might be better suited for older, more mature readers. Pair this title with Linda Barrett Osborne’s This Land is Our Land for a unit on immigration or with Patricia McCormick’s Sold for a unit on human trafficking.

Realistic Fiction      Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area SD



Cowan, Kyle T.  Sunshine is Forever. Inkshares, 2017. 978-1-942645-62-7. $11.99. 282 p. Gr. 9 and up.

Hunter S. Thompson spends his days smoking pot with his only friend until a tragic “incident” changes everything. Desperate for acceptance and connection and wracked with guilt, he blames anyone else for the events in his past.  When he makes a couple of suicide attempts, he is sent to Camp Sunshine for depressed teens.  After being in therapy for months and on several medications, Hunter is not optimistic about the Camp Sunshine Program.  A few of the counselors and guards on staff are cruel and clueless,  though one or two seem genuinely interested and concerned for the kids.  But Hunter finds a real friend in his bunkmate Quint and a potential girlfriend in the charismatic but manipulative Corin. These connections and the questions of his therapist are helping Hunter make progress with his mental state, but when Corin convinces Hunter and a few others to join her in an escape plan, all of their chances for recovery are threatened.  THOUGHTS:  Sunshine is Forever is a raw and darkly humorous tale that tackles adolescent depression, suicide and mental health treatment in a believable way. A fast-paced read – a good choice for reluctant readers and for those who appreciate darker realistic fiction titles.   The mature themes and make it more appropriate for older teens.
Realistic Fiction            Nancy Summers, Abington School District

MS Fiction – Dance Fever; The Shadow Cipher; The First Rule of Punk; Auma’s Long Run

Bowe, Julie. Dance Fever. Stone Arch, 2017. 978-1-4965-3819-2. 148p. $19.99. Gr. 4-8.

Victoria Torres is back in another installment of Capstone’s Victoria Torres, Unfortunately Average series. In Dance Fever, Victoria is finding her role on her middle school’s fundraising committee to be stressful. Annalise (one of the bossiest girls in the school) proposes holding a formal dance to raise funds, but other students want a more relaxed activity. Victoria thinks she’s hit upon the perfect compromise: a barn dance with a Wild West theme. When Annalise agrees, it looks like a crisis has been averted. But Annalise has one condition, she wants the event to be a Sadie Hawkins dance. Now Victoria not only has to deal with helping to organize and run the event, she also must try to work up the nerve to ask her crush Drew to the dance! THOUGHTS: This series is fun and humorous, yet incorporates issues/topics relevant to upper elementary and middle school students. The characters in Dance Fever must work together to meet a common goal, compromise in order to reach their goal, deal with obstacles/complications, and even ask someone out for the first time. Overall, a great (and quick) read.

Realistic Fiction       Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg School District


Ruby, Laura. The Shadow Cipher: York (Book 1). New York: Walden Pond Press, 2017. 978-0-0623-0693-7. 496 p. $17.99. Gr. 5-8.

In 1798, the Morningstar twins arrived in New York City and began building impressive buildings with state-of-the-art machines and technology. They then mysteriously disappeared with their assistant, but their legacy left a lasting impact on the city. It was also rumored that the twins hid a vast fortune in the city that could only be discovered by solving the Old Cipher, a cryptic, seemingly unsolvable puzzle.  Over 300 years later, Tess and Theo Bidermann and Jamie Cruz live in an apartment building designed by the Morningstar twins. A real estate developer is determined to demolish the building along with the other Morningstar buildings in the city. Tess, Theo, and Jamie are determined to save their beloved building and are convinced it’s their time to solve the Cipher and show the world it’s real. THOUGHTS Ruby’s middle grade follow-up to the excellent Bone Gap is a fun, adventurous novel with a lot of heart. Give this one to The Mysterious Benedict Society fans.

Mystery     Vicki Schoewbel, Friends’ Central School


Pérez. Celia C. The First Rule of Punk. Viking, 2017.  978-0-425-29040-8. 310p. $16.99.  Gr. 4-8.

Malu has to move to a new place, but only for two years for her mom’s job.   She calls her mom, “Super Mexican” as she tries to get Malu to become more of a senorita.  Malu’s parents are divorced and her dad, who is a white record store owner and lover of punk music, won’t be coming with them.  Once she gets to Chicago, for the first time in her life, there are other Mexican-Americans around her besides her mom.  In order to deal with all of the changes in her life, Malu makes zines, many of which are sprinkled throughout this book.  Malu does manage to make friends in Chicago and make some music as well.  Malu is a strong character, who still makes mistakes.  At times, this story hits the reader over the head with too much Mexican history and culture at once, but at other times it feels appropriate and flows naturally.  It works best when it is incorporated into one of Malu’s zines.  THOUGHTS: If you are looking to add diversity to your collection for this age group, this is a solid purchase.  Any student who feels out of place can relate to Malu.  

Realistic Fiction      Toni Vahlsing, Abington Friends School


Odhiambo, Eucabeth. Auma’s Long Run.  Carolrhoda Books, 2017. 978-1-5124-2784-4  298 p.  $17.99  Gr. 5-8.

Auma has been running her whole life.  She lives in Kenya and has pinned her hopes on attending secondary school knowing that her only chance of making it there is via a track scholarship. Auma’s dreams don’t stop there; instead of marrying young, like so many girls, Auma wants to become a doctor. Compared to many of the families in her small village, Auma lives a comfortable existence with enough to eat, occasional treats, and the tuition money that will allow her to complete primary school and score well on her admittance exams. However, a dark cloud looms over the village as more and more adults start succumbing to a strange new disease that no one wants to talk about. When Auma’s beloved Baba (father) comes home from his job in the city not feeling well, Auma’s world is turned upside down. Although Auma desperately wants to hold on to her dreams, she is suddenly burdened with the responsibility of supporting and caring for her younger siblings.  Auma starts to learn the truth about the dreaded disease invading her village, AIDS, but there is no cure and little comfort.  Auma’s struggle to keep her dream of getting an education and eventually becoming a doctor alive while keeping her family from starving is nothing short of inspirational.  THOUGHTS: While the writing is very straightforward, at times almost pedestrian, the story is vitally important both in terms of its specific setting (1990s in Kenya) and its larger, universal themes.  A valuable addition for middle school libraries.

Realistic Fiction          Maggie Bokelman, Cumberland Valley SD

MS/HS Nonfiction – Bubonic Plague; White Rose Movement


Jarrow, Gail. Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America. Honesdale, PA: Calkins Creek, 2016. 978-162091-7381. $18.95. 197 pp. Gr. 6-12.
First recorded in the year 542 A.D., bubonic plague has resulted in decimations of cities and countless gruesome deaths by “buboes,” large lumps beneath the skin.  Jarrow tracks the disease from its first recorded history and explains the disturbing differences in bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic plague.  Each was ugly and deadly for at least 40 to 60 percent of victims.  It infected rich, poor, humans and animals and was widely feared.  It came to be associated with rats, though it took until 1898 for two men (Masanori Ogata in Japan, and Paul-Louis Simond of France) to discover separately that rats’ fleas were spreading the disease.  Still, they were dismissed.  A vaccine and serum could help to prevent and cure it, but nothing had stopped the spread of the disease.

In 1899 the disease hit Honolulu, in Chinatown.  With its horrific background, it is no surprise that Surgeon General Walter Wyman feared bubonic plague would reach the mainland.  And in 1900, in San Francisco’s Chinatown, the disease arrived.   “Disinfect. Isolate.  Quarantine.”  This process was repeated amid public uproar claiming discrimination or “plague rumor.”  Bacteriologist Joseph Kinyoun served as quarantine officer for the city, and soon, as the scapegoat for a mayor and residents unwilling to sacrifice their business and trade.  But how could a disease be stopped in a city unwilling to believe it?  Excellent in layout and in use of photographs and primary sources, this book includes thorough FAQs, glossary, index, timeline, author’s note and source notes.  THOUGHTS: Jarrow painstakingly follows the disease’s history in a suspenseful story.  This is a fantastic end to Jarrow’s trio of Deadly Disease books; see Red Madness (2014) and Fatal Fever (2015).  The trilogy could be used in health classes and history courses to discuss medical tracking and management of a disease as well as its social consequences.  Bubonic Panic also weaves well into investigations of the 1906 San Fransisco earthquake and comparisons with the city’s 1989 earthquake.
614.5 Diseases        Melissa Scott, Shenango High School



Freedman, Russell. We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler. New York: Clarion Books, 2016. 978-544-223790. $17.99. 104 pp. Gr. 5-12.
Freedman presents a comprehensive look at Hans and Sophie Schloss, two university students in Munich, who fought against the changes of the Nazi regime and paid for it with their lives.  By creating and distributing anti-Nazi leaflets and leading a group known as the White Rose, the pair spread a dissenting view in an increasingly dangerous time.  “We are your bad conscience” they titled one pamphlet targeting Hitler (46).  In powerfully written prose, Freedman communicates the Scholls’ much-deserved hero status.  Chief interrogator Robert Mohr, himself a Nazi, wrote that “Sophie and Hans Scholl managed a bearing that must be called unique…[They] were convinced that their sacrifice was not in vain” (72).  Accompanying photos provide insight into their personal lives and the difficult political and social environment they faced.  Today in Munich, a memorial for the two lies near a museum for the White Rose.  This is a superb addition to the literature of World War II and the Holocaust.  It includes source notes, a bibliography, and index.  THOUGHTS: Though the actions are grim, the message of freedom is overwhelming to the reader, allowing this to be used by middle and high school students.  Its short length (87 pages of text) and copious use of well-captioned photos draw in readers.  This pairs well with non-fiction or fiction about the Holocaust and World War II (one teacher is pairing it with The Book Thief in our 7th grade Advanced Reading course). It could also be used in conjunction with other books about the resistance movement, notably Philip Hoose’s The Boys Who Challenged Hitler (2015) and Deborah Hopkinson’s anthology Courage and Defiance (2015).  This is sobering and encouraging reading.
943 World War II     Melissa Scott, Shenango High School


Middle Grades Nonfiction – Harper Lee (Essential Lives); Terrible Typhoid Mary


Burling, Alexis.  Harper Lee: Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author (Essential Lives Set #9).  Essential Library, 2016.  978-1-62403-894-5.  112 p.  $24.95.  Grades 5-8.

Harper Lee: Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author is part of ABDO Publishing’s long-standing Essential Lives biography series.  This book has been thoroughly researched, as evidenced by the extensive source notes.  There are a number of photographs of Ms. Lee, her hometown, and the To Kill a Mockingbird film.  Sidebars and text boxes are also used liberally.  Although some of these text boxes seemed to be filler, like “Goof” Trivia from the film”, most were informative and supportive of the text.  This biography was more than a simple depiction of Lee’s life; it focused on how important hometown and family were to her.  It also described her friendship with a small, somewhat effeminate neighborhood boy, Truman Persons (Truman was later adopted by his stepfather and took the surname, Capote). Alexis Burling did an excellent job depicting the influence of the civil rights era on Lee, her family, and neighbors.  Each of the Essential Lives books features a thorough appendix for students including a timeline, essential facts, a glossary, and additional resources.  THOUGHTS: The Essential Lives books are solid reference volumes that would be an asset to any library’s research collection.

Harper Lee: Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author was at its best when it wasn’t focusing on To Kill a Mockingbird.  Harper Lee’s relationships with her family, Truman Capote, and with the press are fascinating and deserve more attention.  The book focused extensively on the film version of Lee’s book, possibly in order to flesh out the story, and this focus seemed to have little relevance to Harper Lee’s life.  Details of her recent years, including the release of Go Set a Watchman are addressed.  Although students probably won’t embrace this book for leisure reading, its currency and scholarship make it a valuable resource for student research.

92 Biography             Susan Fox, Washington Jr./Sr. High School




Bartoletti, Susan Campbell.  Terrible Typhoid Mary: a true story of the deadliest cook in America.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015.  978-0-544-31367-5.  229 p. $17.99.  Grades 5-8.

The story of Mary Mallon is known, at some level, by most people.  Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s Terrible Typhoid Mary is an excellent book about this controversial historical figure.  Mallon’s infamy came from her status as a healthy carrier of typhoid fever and her work as a cook for some of New York City/ Long Island’s wealthiest families in the early 1900s.  There were certainly other healthy carriers of typhoid but, for a number of reasons, Mary Mallon became the most well-known.  There are a number of possible reasons for her notoriety: the wealth of the families she worked for, the desire by Dr. George Soper and Dr. Josephine Baker to be the first to identify a healthy typhoid carrier, and Mary’s low social status as an Irish Immigrant.  Whatever the reasons, Mary Mallon’s reputation was destroyed, and she spent much of her life in medical exile.  THOUGHTS: This book reads like a novel and will be enjoyed by middle school students.  It is also impeccably researched with an extensive appendix.  This is a must-buy for school libraries.

Terrible Typhoid Mary is a well-written book.  However, there are a few places in the book where the author’s attempt to attribute motivations and feelings to Mary Mallon don’t quite ring true.  Mary did not keep a diary or document her life in any way, so it is difficult to know what she was thinking.  This book does ask some important questions relating to professional ethics.  How do we balance the freedom of an individual with the need to protect society?  What responsibility does the press have for presenting a balanced approach to news stories (even though a sensational approach will garner a lot more reader interest)?  Bartoletti’s examination of these and other “big questions” make this a very interesting volume.

614.5- Incidence/Prevention of Disease         Susan Fox, Washington Jr./Sr. High School


YA Realistic Fiction…Everything, Everything; Whippoorwill


Yoon, Nicola. Everything, Everything. New York: Delacorte Press, 2015. 978-0553496642. 320 p. $18.99. Gr. 9 and up.

This wonderful novel by newcomer Nicola Yoon will leave readers thinking about the things we take advantage of in our lives, and how love can, in some situations, drive us to perform astonishing, or horrifying, acts. Ever since she can remember, Maddy has lived in fear of the outside; she has a rare disease that causes her to be allergic to basically everything. Her mother, a medical doctor, has created a safe haven in their home and taken every precaution to keep Maddy healthy and happy. Maddy accepts her fate stoically (what chance has she had to do otherwise?). But then, Olly moves in next door, and slowly her understanding of who she is and what she values most in the world begins to unravel. Through instant messaging, she becomes friends with Olly. Eventually, after repeated begging, Maddy’s nurse lets them meet in person. The usual boy/girl romance begins to unfold, but Yoon creates tension with the constant reminder of Maddy’s disease and her inability to be in the outside world. Maddy’s mother, who was always Maddy’s best friend and confidant, begins to wonder what Maddy is doing with her time and what her relationship with Olly truly is. Olly’s own difficult relationship with his father brings their relationship to a head, and Maddy must decide what she values most in life: living in fear or embracing her dreams? THOUGHTS: The plot can be a bit hard to fathom at times, but the characters are likeable and interesting, and Maddy’s discovery of the outside world replicates the happy time of watching a young child experience something new. Take a chance on experiencing this novel, and you won’t be disappointed!

Realistic Fiction     Lindsey Myers, Shady Side Academy Senior School

While this is a truly wonderful story, the plot does have a few holes that the reader must patch up with a healthy amount of willing suspension of disbelief. This, though, is reminiscent of John Corey Whaley’s recent novel, Noggin. The authors do not want the science to get in the way of telling a story, and if students are willing to take this into account they will enjoy the character study. Other reviews have compared the relationship of Maddy and Olly to Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, but I have to say that I enjoyed Eleanor and Park much better. While both couples are overcoming obstacles (Eleanor and her difficult home life cause much strife in that relationship), Eleanor and Park’s story is one that could happen anywhere and in any town. Maddy and Olly have a fantastical basis for their relationship, and this can sometimes make the reader feel that the relationship is not as authentic as it could be. Yet, I did enjoy the slight tension that Maddy’s disease caused, even if I did not always believe in the plot. I definitely look forward to reading more of Yoon’s novels in the future!


Monninger, Joseph. Whippoorwill. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. 978-0-544-53123-9. 275 p. $17.99. Gr. 7 and up.

In New Hampshire, “Whippoorwill” families are the ones with muddy yards full of rusted junk and trash. In the yard of Clair Taylor’s neighbors, the Stewarts, one of those items is a dog named Wally. He spends days and nights chained to a pole, treated with indifference at best, and with no clue of how to interact with humans. Clair takes an interest in Wally and begins training him with the methods of Father Jasper, founder of the novel’s Maine Academy for Dogs. In the process, Clair forms an unexpected friendship with Danny Stewart, who seems almost as hungry for affection as Wally. The story begins at a slow but steady pace as Clair gets to know Wally and Danny and begins to reveal her own pain over the death of her mother three years earlier. Midway through the book, an act of violence flips Clair’s relationship with Danny on its head and endangers her claim to the eminently lovable Wally. It’s tough to put a new spin on the “good dog in a bad situation” story, but Joseph Monninger has done it! His austere writing style is absolutely perfect for the novel’s plotline and for the voice of Claire, a refreshingly unselfconscious protagonist in YA literature. THOUGHTS: Themes of loyalty and friendship lend Whippoorwill a timeless quality, though the true hero of the story is human kindness. After reading the last page you will want to give any animal (or underdog, for that matter) in your life the extra compassion that they deserve. And just try to resist that cover image!

Realistic Fiction            Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School


Hold Me Like a Breath


Schmidt, Tiffany. Hold Me Like a Breath. New York: Bloomsbury, 2015. 978-0-8027-3782-3. 390 p. $17.99. Gr. 8 and up.

Penelope Landlow has grown up knowing that she is the most precious, and the most fragile, person on her family’s luxurious estate. Penelope has a blood disorder that causes low platelet counts, severe bruising, and spontaneous bleeding. Like any 16-year old girl, she longs to explore life beyond her strict boundaries. Unlike any other 16-year old girl, though, the Family Business is trafficking in black market organs and arranging illegal, but life-saving, transplants. When her older brother is viciously murdered, and then a violent raid targets her parents, Penelope goes into hiding in New York City. There she falls into a fairy tale love story with a boy named Char, but time is running out for her to discover who wants all of the Landlows dead … and all the while her platelets are dropping to dangerously low levels. This first installment in the Once Upon a Crime series is an intriguing mix of fairy tale, organized crime, and medical thriller. The pace drags a little during the development of Penelope and Char’s romance, but then picks up dramatically as secrets are revealed in the final third of the book. Penelope is an endearing heroine, and her efforts to break out of her “glass princess” role will resonate with teens who feel overly sheltered.

Realistic Fiction          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School

Tiffany Schmidt is a Pennsylvania author whose novels just keep getting better. Hold Me Like a Breath will be great fun to booktalk, playing up different aspects depending on your audience, and there is a sharp book trailer out on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djM0c–ouZM.

Red Madness and Pure Grit…Stand-alone nonfiction


Jarrow, Gail.  Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat. Honesdale: Calkins Creek, 2014. 978-1-59078-732-8. $14.46. 192p. Gr. 6 and up.

The medical mystery of pellagra would bedevil doctors from the first reported case in 1902 until Dr. Joseph Goldberger reluctantly accepted the Surgeon General’s orders to head the pellagra investigation in early 1914.  Dedicating over half his life to solving the dilemma, Goldberger conducted filth parties, animal experiments, and dietary assessments in search of answers.  During the course of his work, he searched for cause and cure, believing in his research and the methods his staff used even when critics attacked his claims and denounced his findings.  Because of his dedication, the symptoms of a rash accompanied with intestinal irritation followed by possible dementia and plausible death, experts learned that the disease was linked to a dietary deficiency.  As a result, the United States Public Health Service instituted changes to dietary standards and enriched foods including bread.  The reader can follow the physicians and scientists through all the complexities of symptoms, misconceptions of diagnoses, and perplexing discoveries while America desperately searched for a cure.


Written as an authentic medical manifestation, Jarrow delicately weaves a subtle mystery into the details and factual data documenting pellagra that keeps readers intrigued and questioning the research and hypotheses.  Throughout the text, personal stories are set apart with subheadings and highlighted in a different font.  Bold red captions and headings organize chapters, and graphic photos from people stricken by the disease and fraudulent advertisements promising a cure for a minimal price add to the authenticity of the text and the pain victims suffered.  With compelling technique and captivating personal narratives, Jarrow has written an riveting medical mystery.
Disease; Scientific Discovery     Christine Massey, JWP Middle School







Farrell, Mary Cronk. Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific. New York: Abrams Books, 2014. 978-1-4197-1028-5. $24.95. 160p. Gr. 7 and up.
Nursing during the early 1900’s was considered a paltry profession by some, especially the family members of young, virtuous women who pursued this type of career instead of a more secure and sheltered occupation.   For women who needed some type of income during the Great Depression, though, nursing was the answer.  The young women in Pure Grit were stationed in the Philippines.  At first they enjoyed all the amenities of a retreat.  Wild orchids and other exotic flowers decorated the landscape, and hired help took care of the mundane tasks including laundry, cooking and cleaning.  The blissful peace was unexpectedly interrupted when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and launched a military assault targeting the Philippines.  Nurses with little war-time training were suddenly thrust into triage situations and performing surgeries.   In the midst of their work, these courageous women battled their own emotions and fear while nursing the wounded and comforting the dying.  They witnessed a face so badly burned that the patient was beyond recognition and a sixteen-year-old boy who lied about his true age lose both legs during an amputation procedure.  These altruistic women who put others before themselves and endured hardships and perilous circumstances served their country proudly.


While the nurses were never physically beaten or abused, they suffered under the perpetual presence of the Japanese guards which precipitated mental exertion and made the women feel inconsequential.  Many suffered from diseases and health complications due to the insubstantial food and physical strain suffered.  Their stories, told with a brazen frankness, are intermixed with photocopies of letters and diaries, maps, and photos.  Chapter titles are highlighted with a red background, and bold dates call the reader’s attention.  In the words of Nurse Alice “Swish” Zwicker, “It’s a strange thing about war.  One never gets used to it and yet once it begins it seems always to have been that way.  No beginning and no end.”  Fortunately, Farrell has researched and even interviewed one survivor and several family members so their stories of valor will never be forgotten.


World War II     Christine Massey, JWP Middle School