• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 11, 2015)
Twenty-five-year-old Ivy Rowan rises from her sickbed after being struck by the great influenza epidemic of 1918, only to discover that the world has been torn apart in just a few short days.
But Ivy’s lifelong gift—or curse—remains. She sees the uninvited ones—ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked for and unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918, Ivy sees the spirit of her grandmother, rocking in her mother’s chair. An hour later, she learns her younger brother and father have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death in the Great War of Ivy’s other brother, Billy.
Horrified, she leaves home and soon realizes that the flu has caused utter panic and the rules governing society have broken down. Ivy is drawn into this new world of jazz, passion, and freedom, where people live for today, because they could be stricken by nightfall. She even enters into a relationship with the murdered German man’s brother, Daniel Schendel. But as her “uninvited guests” begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once again, and terrifying secrets will unfold.
During this horrific time there was also a patriotic duty to protect one's country. Germans, for example, weren't exactly welcome once either war broke. Ivy, recovering from the flu, comes downstairs to find that her father and brother beat a German to death. Desperate for some form of forgiveness, Ivy goes to find the German's brother. At this point I have to admit that things went a little sideways, for me. Ivy is a socially awkward recluse whose seeking independence. She's a virgin and out of guilt, I think, she randomly sleeps with a stranger to make him "feel better". This seemed really forced and against her nature. Despite this, the story beyond this began to unfold nicely and I found myself really enjoying Ivy's newfound freedoms and friendships.
Two such friends were Addie and Nela. They were a Polish woman and young black teenager who ran the night ambulance and gathered the sick. They are such a dedicated and honorable hoot whenever given time with Ivy. They're lingering insecurities and overwhelming need to complete their task was endearing and they were pretty funny in doing so.
Ivy, being a dedicated Emily Dickinson fan, recites many of the beautiful poems as she struggles to understand her gift of seeing the dead, her new life and the war. Her fear grows to understanding and I really liked the ending. I had an inkling of what might happen and I found the whole idea to be a fitting conclusion for the characters.
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