Queen of Hearts

by Martha Brooks

Marie-Claire lives with her family on the Manitoba prairie during World War II. After... read more

Marie-Claire lives with her family on the Manitoba prairie during World War II. After Marie-Claire and her younger siblings are diagnosed with tuberculosis, they are sent to a nearby sanatorium, where Marie-Claire meets Signy, another teen in the ward. Signy, already a long-time resident, is happy to know another girl her age and welcomes Marie-Clarie enthusiastically. She treats Marie-Claire like a best friend from the start, including sharing gifts sent by her wealthy, seldom-seen parents. Marie-Claire senses Signy’s neediness and often resents it, even as she struggles with her own loneliness and fear. Through weeks and months in which endless bed rest is only disrupted by painful setbacks, moments of despair, and occasional happy surprises, Marie-Claire’s condition gradually—so, so slowly—improves, while Signy’s does not. When Marie-Claire is able to leave the ward and move into one of the cottages on the grounds, she feels guilty. Yet it’s easy to not visit Signy, until it’s almost too late, and then it’s suddenly hard to stay away. It’s a revelation for Marie-Claire when both girls finally move beyond pretense, prickliness, and fear and discover fertile ground where a real friendship takes root. Martha Brooks explores a developing, at times uncertain friendship with insight and honesty that will resonate with many teens in a novel that also offers an illuminating look at the devastation of tuberculosis, which still exists in many places today. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2012

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