Author: Cat Winters.
Published: Published August 11th 2015 by William Morrow.
Source: Edelweiss and publisher, thanks!
Twenty-five year old Ivy Rowan rises from her bed after being struck by the flu, only to discover the world has been torn apart in just a few short days. But Ivy’s life-long gift—or curse—remains. For she sees the uninvited ones—ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked, unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918 she 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 of Ivy’s older brother Billy in the Great War. Horrified, she leaves home, to discover 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 the day, because they could be stricken by nightfall. But as her ‘uninvited guests’ begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once more, but Ivy has no inkling of the other-worldly revelations about to unfold.
The setting takes places in the last days of World War I, in 1918, during the Spanish Flu pandemic. The world is in panic and Ivy has to deal with the fact her father and brother killed a German out of retaliation for her brother’s death in the war with Germany. Shocked, she flees home and is swept away in a world of jazz. She doesn’t know how to deal with her feelings of guilt and decides to visit Daniel. He is a German who has to deal with a lot of prejudice and he suffers from the loss of his brother at the hands of Ivy’s family. The two of them start an unique relation.
I loved the setting. If a book mentions something about a sickness I’m all up for it and Winters has a fantastic use of the Flu pandemic. The whole book has a dark atmosphere because of the wide-spread hysteria. We get to see whole neighbourhoods that fall for the Flu and how little care there is for its victims. Ivy helps out with the transport (and at the end you realize how utterly brilliant this is) and I admired the fact she took that risk.
This brings me to Ivy, who immediately stole my heart. She can’t put up any longer with her brother and abusive father, so she walks away to an uncertain future. She has no place and no money, but her intelligence brings her far and soon she is settled down. Ivy is also able to see The Uninvited ones; ghost from people who herald impending death. The way Winters wrote about this aspect of the story felt so real. It never felt out of place and it made a lot of sense. There was a mental strength to her and I liked being able to see the world through her eyes. It took a lot of courage to visit Daniel, especially because it is dangerous to connect yourself to a German during this time, and I love their dynamic. Daniel is a bitter person after everything he had to endure, but I warmed up to him easily. They bring out the good parts of each other and it’s interesting to see how their relation developed.
The story itself is a quiet one. There are no big climaxes or dramatic situations. It is more about the atmosphere and how Ivy/Daniel try to battle with the hatred against all Germans. History lessons never really touched the subject about how Germans were treated in other parts of the world, so it made an impression on me.
The twisty ending place everything in a new perspective and I must applaud Winters for coming up with such a conclusion. It ties everything together and explains a lot. It was very powerful and it punched me in the face. A book with an ending that leaves you speechless for a few moments is definitely worth it.