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Reading Under the Willow Tree

Environmental Science student, book reader, big dreamer, Sailing/Kayak/Surf instructor, Film buff, Adventurer, Girl.

Currently reading

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Tom Leveen
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In The Shadow of Blackbirds

In the Shadow of Blackbirds - Cat Winters

I have to admit that I was uncertain about reading this book, I was unsure if it was something I really wanted to read and it took a while for me to get around to reading it. I am so glad I finally did pick it up because In the Shadow of Blackbirds is really quite impressive.

It takes place in America during World War 2 and is largely influenced but the Spanish Flu Epidemic that was rampant at the time. Being British my history lessons tended to revolve more around the plague where disease is concerned so this really was different and new for me. I have heard that this book is not historically correct where the Spanish Influenza is concerned but I still learnt a great deal from it, not only about the flu itself but about America during war time. What really helped with this and also with the atmosphere of the novel is the use of photos take at that time and real posters and propaganda that were fluttered throughout the book, it was a really nice touch.

The story itself is fantastic and in truth it is hard to pick up on something Winters has done wrong, she manages to weave so many emotions and feelings into this but not once did it feel overdone. The spooky bits were genuinely unsettling (as were one or two of the photos), the romance was beautiful, the relationships complex and emotional and the ending just brilliant. There was a twist at the end I didn't see coming and I was
moved to tears at points.

Winters has not only creating a wonderful story but also some brilliant characters. Mary will probably be one of my favourite YA female characters of the year. She was smart,
sensible and loveable. Mary has been through so much and her story is not an easy one, and the world she is growing up in is dark and terrifying but she was so mature and well put together. I admired her courage and her strength so much and liked how it ended for her. Her relationship was her aunt was complex but there was real love there.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds is a well put together and atmospheric novel that really does deserve some attention. I doubt it was be a huge hit or that people will take much notice, the cover is odd and the blurb even more so, but to not pay this book attention would be a real shame because it most certainly deserves it. I doubt there will be more YA books this year written with this level of atmosphere, emotional depth
and maturity.