Queen of Hearts

( 7 )

Overview

On the prairies of Canada during World War II, a girl and her two young siblings begin a war of their own. Stricken with tuberculosis, they are admitted to a nearby sanatorium. Teenager Marie Claire is headstrong, angry, and full of stubborn pride. In a new strange land of TB exiles she must “chase the cure,” seek privacy where there is none, and witness the slow wasting decline of others. But in this moving novel about fighting a way back to normal life, it is the thing ...

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Overview

On the prairies of Canada during World War II, a girl and her two young siblings begin a war of their own. Stricken with tuberculosis, they are admitted to a nearby sanatorium. Teenager Marie Claire is headstrong, angry, and full of stubborn pride. In a new strange land of TB exiles she must “chase the cure,” seek privacy where there is none, and witness the slow wasting decline of others. But in this moving novel about fighting a way back to normal life, it is the thing that sets back Marie Claire the most—the demise of her little brother—that also connects her with the person who will be instrumental in helping her recover.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When 15-year-old Marie-Claire and her younger brother and sister are diagnosed with tuberculosis, they are admitted to Quebec's Pembina Hills Sana-torium, where they separately struggle with the disease. In the 1940s, the only cure—according to Marie-Claire's nurse—is "rest.... besides eating properly and breathing in fresh air at night and during rest hours and, sometimes, surgery." Brooks's (Mistik Lake) premise may not instantly click with readers, but they will sympathize with the book's prickly heroine, who feels as though "my world as a normal person has just ended." Marie-Claire has many anxieties, from worrying about her siblings to fearing a grisly operation. But as Marie-Claire recuperates, she grows up, too, beginning a sweet romance with another patient and learning to support those she loves, even though "bad things happen and will keep on happening." Marie-Claire and her fellow patients' fears will be recognizable to contemporary readers—in a heartbreaking scene, another girl, Signy, wonders, "And who will love me?" And those worries gain real depth from truly being a matter of life or death, instead of just feeling that way. Ages 12–up. (Aug.)
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—It is 1940, and Canada, along with the rest of the world, is at war. Marie-Claire, 15, lives on a farm with Maman, Papa, and her younger brother and sister. Never easy, life gets much harder after down-on-his-luck Oncle Gérard comes to stay and then dies from tuberculosis in the local infirmary. Soon, Marie-Claire and her siblings are diagnosed with TB and consigned to the same institution. Adventuresome and headstrong Marie-Claire is confined to a bed next to painfully cheerful Signy and told to be a "patient patient." When her brother dies just before Christmas, Marie-Claire must come to terms with the blame she has placed on herself for having taken him to visit their Oncle, as well as her father's inability to deal with what has happened to his children. The novel provides an intriguing glimpse into the now-unfamiliar world of TB sanatoriums. From a scene in which the women tan naked to soak up the sun to Marie-Claire's stolen moment spent flying a kite by moonlight with her new love, the story is played out in small moments, sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes sweet, and always poignant. Brooks masterfully re-creates a TB sanatorium through the protagonist's experience and believable characters. A well-drawn, innocent, yet compelling work of historical fiction.—Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ
From the Publisher
“From the very first page, Martha Brooks draws us into her narrative. Rich in sensory details, every word adds to this compelling picture of life on the Canada prairie.” —Shelf Awareness for Readers

 

"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." —Kirkus Starred

 

"Readers…will be fascinated by Marie-Claire’s fictionalized yet convincing travail.” —BCCB

 

"Brooks masterfully re-creates a TB sanatorium through the protagonist’s experience and believable characters. A well-drawn, innocent, yet compelling work of historical fiction." —School Library Journal

 

"Much like a play in its discrete, focused scenes, this novel is that rarest of birds, a happily ending, nonsappy young adult romance."  —Horn Book Magazine, Starred Review

 

"Marie-Claire and her fellow patients’ fears will be recognizable to contemporary readers…” — Publishers Weekly

 

 

 

 

Children's Literature - Julia Beiker
In the 1940's, an outbreak of tuberculosis devastates a nation, making the patients actual outcasts in society because of the fear of contracting this contagious illness. One of those patients is Marie-Claire who spends months inside a special hospital secluded from her brother and sister within the same walls. To a young teen starting to bloom, the hospital bed seems more like a prison than a way to fix her lungs. The methods of treatment include breathing outside cold air and a specialized food plan. She learns about friendship, love, and death while confined to this bed. The question remains if she will be able to walk out on her own two legs or will she be carried out? Although I empathize with the characters and how difficult it has to be, I feel the story itself may not appeal to the targeted audience. Today's teen do not even know what tuberculosis is or even what it would be like to have to stay in a bed for months or even years. It seems like a story for an adult that can remember those times. The climax seems lost because it takes so long to get there; the plot is like a balloon with a small hole that slowly leaks out the air. Brooks did do a good job of creating lovable characters and showing how having something so horrible happen to one can still produce a silver lining. Reviewer: Julia Beiker
VOYA - Victoria Vogel
Tuberculosis is one of those diseases with a unique history. At the turn of the century, several resort-like sanitoriums began to open in Canada to isolate and treat the numerous cases, with the belief that rest, nutrition, and fresh air were the best treatments. Brooks (True Confessions of a Heartless Girl [HarperTeen, 2003]) grew up on the grounds of the Manitoba Sanitorium as the daughter of a doctor who treated there. Her account of a young girl's experience is an illustration of a hidden piece of history. Fifteen-year-old Marie-Claire is one of three children in the Cote family of southern Manitoba, Canada, to contract the disease when a sick uncle comes to visit. The children are sent to the Pembina Hills Sanitorium to be treated. Marie-Claire is separated from her siblings and cut off from her parents. She is initially put off by her roommate, Signy, who comes from a rich family and has been there for several years, but eventually the two girls develop a friendship. Marie-Claire feels like a prisoner and is forced to endure strange treatments to "chase the cure," such as spending nights sleeping outside in the freezing Canadian temperatures. World War II wages on in the background, transforming the world as she undergoes her own transformation, experiencing a profound loss and falling in love for the first time with another patient. Brooks has a gift for creating interesting settings. The isolation of sanitarium life is underscored by the bleak Canadian landscape. Marie-Claire is a strong, opinionated character that readers will enjoy. The devastation of tuberculosis is profound, and this is clearly communicated. Overall, this is an interesting piece of historical fiction that is recommended for school and public libraries. The lack of controversial subject matter makes it appropriate for all ages. Reviewer: Victoria Vogel
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—It is 1940, and Canada, along with the rest of the world, is at war. Marie-Claire, 15, lives on a farm with Maman, Papa, and her younger brother and sister. Never easy, life gets much harder after down-on-his-luck Oncle Gérard comes to stay and then dies from tuberculosis in the local infirmary. Soon, Marie-Claire and her siblings are diagnosed with TB and consigned to the same institution. Adventuresome and headstrong Marie-Claire is confined to a bed next to painfully cheerful Signy and told to be a "patient patient." When her brother dies just before Christmas, Marie-Claire must come to terms with the blame she has placed on herself for having taken him to visit their Oncle, as well as her father's inability to deal with what has happened to his children. The novel provides an intriguing glimpse into the now-unfamiliar world of TB sanatoriums. From a scene in which the women tan naked to soak up the sun to Marie-Claire's stolen moment spent flying a kite by moonlight with her new love, the story is played out in small moments, sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes sweet, and always poignant. Brooks masterfully re-creates a TB sanatorium through the protagonist's experience and believable characters. A well-drawn, innocent, yet compelling work of historical fiction.—Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374342296
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 8/2/2011
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 601,294
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

MARTHA BROOKS was raised in southwestern Manitoba, near the U.S. border, in a medical family on the grounds of a tuberculosis sanatorium. She lives in Winnepeg, Canada.

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Read an Excerpt

Queen of Hearts

Wolf at the Door

Summer 1940

Author's Note

I grew up in a medical family on the grounds of a tuberculosis sanatorium in Ninette, Manitoba, where my father was a thoracic surgeon and my mother a nurse. As a kid, I'd tear down the hilly road on my bike, black Lab yapping at the wheels. Patients, both young and old, pressed their faces against the balcony screens and laughed and called down to me to stop to talk. I'd come to an abrupt halt, back up the bike, crane my neck, and then we'd chat. I was lonely. They missed their families. It was perfect.

At the beginning of the last century, tuberculosis caused over one-third of the deaths in young people ages fifteen to thirty-five. Imagine being sixteen years old, contracting TB, and then being confined to a long-term care facility. How would one respond? It was a question I wanted answered, fictionally.

Queen of Hearts takes place a few years before I was born, also at a time just before the arrival of the "miracle drugs," as the first antibiotics were known—streptomycin being the earliest. As a treatment for TB, these drugs seemed to promise a permanent end to the disease and helped many beat back their illness. Up until then, rest and good food were the mainstays of "chasing the cure," as well as various types of "collapse therapy." These were simply the best tools and techniques medical people worked with.

During the three years and many drafts that it took to find my characters and try to catch them in all those revelatoryhuman moments that are the mark of good fiction, I struggled with my own health issues. At one point, I found myself lying in a hospital bed with a traumatically induced collapsed lung. I had almost died, but the wonderful thing was the collapsed lung. I had just written about it in Queen of Hearts and I'd wondered how it felt. Well, what fabulous research! When you read Marie-Claire's own experience with collapse therapy, think of me!

As World War II was being waged overseas, the crusade back home to lick TB presented a fierce challenge. This book is a valentine to the foot soldiers of that righteous war—doctors, nurses, other staff, and especially the amazing patients who sought victory over their disease and sometimes won and sometimes didn't.

Sixty years on, the fight against TB is anything but over. In fact, experts say there is now more tuberculosis than ever before in human history, and new drug-resistant strains of the bacterium have appeared around the world, including in North America. The disease kills about two million people annually, mainly in impoverished third world countries.

Copyright © 2010 by Martha Brooks

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    Amazing book!

    This is a amazing book!! I love it so much becuase of its touch of romance! Its a quick read, has some depressing moments, and a great story plot!!! I recommend this book to people who like bad beginning, happy ending books!! Read it!! Its really good!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2012

    A starclan cat

    Guides Honeyleafs spirit to star land first result.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2012

    Icefang to blazestar

    Can i bee the medicen nat

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2012

    Honeyleaf to tigerfrost and hawkstare

    I bless your kits and will watch over them in starclan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2012

    Tigerfrost

    Tigerfrost~ Hi Hawkstare! *he purred.*

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2012

    Blazestar

    Hawkstares kitting!

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

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