by Martha Brockenbrough
Review by KM
I’ll admit, the beautiful cover art was the first thing that attracted me to this book. It was standing on the top of our New Releases shelf at the library, all bright and brilliant and never having been checked out. I may not believe in love at first sight with people, but I’ve fallen into love at first sight with many books and this was one of them.
Not since THE BOOK THIEF has the character of Death played such an original and affecting part in a book for young people.
Flora and Henry were born a few blocks from each other, innocent of the forces that might keep a white boy and an African American girl apart; years later they meet again and their mutual love of music sparks an even more powerful connection. But what Flora and Henry don’t know is that they are pawns in a game played by the eternal adversaries Love and Death, here brilliantly reimagined as two extremely sympathetic and fascinating characters. Can their hearts and their wills overcome not only their earthly circumstances, but forces that have battled throughout history? In the rainy Seattle of the 1920’s, romance blooms among the jazz clubs, the mansions of the wealthy, and the shanty towns of the poor. But what is more powerful: love? Or death?
I am having a really hard time encapsulating the reasons why I love this book, so I’m going to try to do a rambling break down.
The characters: Love and Death are fantastic. While Flora and Henry’s stories were unique and lovely to read, I really ache for a book that is entirely just Love and Death. Their interactions were the best, especially when they’d hint at the years of history and players that came before. You could feel the way they were trapped within their roles: the expectations that they were held to and how they sometimes resented it.
The history: I’m not one for historical novels, usually. If I’d taken a closer look at the summary and caught the 1920’s reference, the book would’ve probably stayed on the shelf. There was something great about this. It isn’t the breakthrough book that is going to lead me to loving all historical novels, but it was definitely refreshing to see a recently released book that doesn’t have a ton of references to Twitter or current celebrities.
The diction: A lot of authors can tell an awesome story, but there are just a few books where the words flow in such a way that they stay with you. They repeat over in your head, bouncing around like wind chimes on a breezy day. I found that in this book and that’s why it’s spent the last three weeks in my house instead of returning to the library.
This wasn’t a quick read for me. It took time to get through, a slow but pleasurable read. I guess since I’ll have to return it to the library, I’ll be getting a copy of my own later this week.