Rummanah Aasi
  I'm learning a lot of things that I didn't know about this week. I wasn't aware that there was an influenza pandemic in 1918 to 1919 that killed more people than World War I? Reportedly, between 20 and 40 million people died from this pandemic. More people died of influenza in a single year than in four-years of the Black Death Bubonic Plague, which spread throughout Europe, from 1347 to 1351.Can you believe that? To learn more about the influenza pandemic of 1918, visit this page by Stanford University. Now that the history lesson is over, let's get to the book shall we? The reason why I brought this up is because this pandemic serves at the back drop of Lafeye's latest title The Keening.

Description (from inside panel): Born into an artistic and eccentric family, Lyza laments that her only talent is carving letters into wood. That is, until the devastating loss of her mother to influenza during the pandemic of 1918. The illness has settled on their small coastal town in Maine, and the funeral marches pass Lyza’s house almost daily. When her unconventional father begins to prepare for the return of his dead wife, Lyza is the only one to protect him from being committed to the work farm. Awash with grief and longing for her mother, Lyza journeys into the thin territory that divides the living from the dead.
            Relying on her courage, and an undiscovered talent, Lyza must save her father and find her own path. From the celebrated author of Worth, a powerful story of love that persists beyond the grave.

Review: I had expected The Keening to be a very depressing story filled with pages of people who have died, but I was pleasantly surprised. While characters important people to the story die, this is not the sole focus of the book. The book is primarily about Lyza trying to care for and protect her eccentric father after the death of her mother as well as discovering new traits about herself.
  The characters of this story are interesting and original. Lyza’s pater (i.e. father) is quite unusual and very easily written off by others as insane. He does seem to have some signs of being autistic. He spends most of his time carving realistic faces into anything available. He's so absorbed in his craft that most days he forgets to eat and he wouldn’t even get dressed if not for the constant reminders from Lyza’s mother. Lyza’s mother’s side of the family is fully committed to send Lyza's father to an asylum and use Lyza's mother's inheritance for something else. However, when Lyza's mother dies, she is left with this arduous task in protecting her household. Soon Lyzya discovers that her father isn't crazy, he just has a unique talent and maybe she does too.
  The book is written with a dreamlike atmosphere, which really drew me in but may turn off some readers. Lyza constantly imagines herself being in a boat trying to get to some shore that she sees but can't reach. Lyza is a strong character who is struggling to find her own identity while keeping her loyalties to her family. Her voice is much older than her physical age, which I guess is common on how people spoke and thought in 1918. She yearns to become close to her distant father, whom she slowly begins to understand his unique personality while the book reaches its climax.
  The description of The Keening are excellent and there is a paranormal twist, which I didn't expect. The paranormal aspect didn't feel forced, but rather comes across as being natural as if it could really happen. While the book may technically fall under the historical fiction genre, it's actually more of a story of a father's and daughter's relationship, which I think many people will enjoy. It's definitely worth a read.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 7 and up.

If you like this book try: Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson or The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
2 Responses
  1. I have this book waiting for me on NetGalley. I'm glad you liked it and now I look forward to reading it even more! Great review!

  2. Jenny Says:

    Ohhhh love that this one has a paranormal twist, I wouldn't have guessed that based on the blurb. Glad to know it's a well done twist and not just hastily tossed in there as a seeming afterthought. Great review Rummanah!

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