THE APPRENTICESHIP OF LUCAS WHITAKER

Science and superstition clash over a macabre 19th-century folk remedy for tuberculosis in this tale of an orphaned farm lad taken on by a skeptical apothecary. After his entire family is lost to ``consumption,'' Lucas numbly wanders the Connecticut countryside, washing up at last in the home of Uriah M. Beecher, self-described ``doctor, dentist, apothecary, barber, and, when all else fails, undertaker.'' Beecher exercises each of his functions on various townsfolk as Lucas, an enthralled student, looks on. They part company, though, over a widespread rumor: that the first in a family to die of consumption rises up at night to draw the life from others, and that burning the heart of the ``undead'' one, breathing its smoke and eating its ashes, will cure the sick and confer immunity. Lucas, troubled not just by his argument with Beecher (whose own ideas about disease are quite modern-sounding), but by the thought that he might have saved at least some of his own family, makes a vulnerable protagonist, as DeFelice (Lostman's River, 1994, etc.) conveys with feeling how desperation and ignorance can lend plausibility to the wildest tales. Despite the stock cast, her point is well made; the inclusion of corpses and exhumations, though not described in detail, adds—for some readers—an appealingly grisly touch. Foreword and afterword. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 1996

ISBN: 0-374-34669-0

Page Count: 151

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A poignant and relevant retelling of a child immigrant’s struggle to recover from an accident and feel at home in America.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • Pura Belpré Medal Winner

LUCKY BROKEN GIRL

In the 1960s, Ruthie Mizrahi, a young Jewish Cuban immigrant to New York City, spends nearly a year observing her family and friends from her bed.

Before the accident, Ruthie’s chief goals are to graduate out of the “dumb class” for remedial students, to convince her parents to buy her go-go boots, and to play hopscotch with other kids in her Queens apartment building. But after Papi’s Oldsmobile is involved in a fatal multicar collision, Ruthie’s leg is severely broken. The doctor opts to immobilize both legs in a body cast that covers Ruthie from chest to toes. Bedridden and lonely, Ruthie knows she’s “lucky” to be alive, but she’s also “broken.” She begins collecting stories from her Jewban grandparents; her fellow young immigrant friends, Belgian Danielle and Indian Ramu; her “flower power” tutor, Joy; and her vibrant Mexican neighbor, Chicho, an artist who teaches her about Frida Kahlo. Ruthie also prays and writes letters to God, Shiva, and Kahlo, asking them for guidance, healing, and forgiveness. A cultural anthropologist and poet, the author based the book on her own childhood experiences, so it’s unsurprising that Ruthie’s story rings true. The language is lyrical and rich, the intersectionality—ethnicity, religion, class, gender—insightful, and the story remarkably engaging, even though it takes place primarily in the island of Ruthie’s bedroom.

A poignant and relevant retelling of a child immigrant’s struggle to recover from an accident and feel at home in America. (Historical fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54644-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This meditative #ownvoices read refreshingly treats chronic illness as just one of life’s myriad complexities.

ITCH

Isaac faces so many complications in sixth grade: bullying, loneliness, guilt, his mother’s two-month business trip, tornadoes—and the itch.

Isaac’s been trying to fit in since moving from New York State to rural Ohio. He’s learned about football, for, despite his engineer parents’ sports apathy, the Ohio State Buckeyes are a religion around this (seemingly predominantly white) town. Isaac even lets his classmates call him Itch, the nickname he earned because of his chronic condition. Isaac has what he calls “the itch” and what the doctors call “idiopathic angioedema.” Sometimes, for no apparent reason, Isaac gets an uncontrollable itch and swells up with massive hives, making his hands “look like raw hamburger meat.” Of course, Isaac’s not the only kid in sixth grade with health troubles. His best friend has life-threatening food allergies, and so does the weird new kid; both need EpiPens. A deft touch with unusual details keeps the narrative from getting bogged down in medical drama: Isaac has an after-school job at a pheasant farm, a preoccupation with the texture of sandwiches, and a lucky peanut shell. Lyrical, pensive prose unexpectedly isn’t a harbinger of tragedy; these kids have regular lives, shaped by their grave health concerns but not overwhelmed by them.

This meditative #ownvoices read refreshingly treats chronic illness as just one of life’s myriad complexities. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4552-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more