Breathing Room

by Marsha Hayles

In May 1940, thirteen-year-old Evvy enters Loon Lake Sanatorium in Minnesota for... read more

In May 1940, thirteen-year-old Evvy enters Loon Lake Sanatorium in Minnesota for treatment of tuberculosis. Away from home and family, her life revolves around treatments and the other girls in her ward. Some of the staff are insensitive and even cruel. And by today’s standards, some of the “cures” to which she is subjected are bizarre. But there are also people and acts of kindness that make a real difference to a sick child far from home, from a particularly compassionate nurse to some of her ward mates, other girls also facing fear and loneliness, whether they show it or not. Marsha Hayles’s characterizations of the various girls—their personalities, their insecurities, and their interactions—are especially notable in this fine work of historical fiction. Letters from home also buoy Evvy, and help transform her difficult relationship with her mother when she finally returns home at story’s end. At the start of almost every chapter is a documentary photograph, advertisement, poster, or other element showing some dimension of the time period and TB treatment. All are documented in the end matter, which also includes a lengthy author’s note about Hayles’s interest in the topic and setting. (Ages 9–13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2013

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