Hooper, Mary. Poppy.
August 30th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
ARC from Baker and Taylor
Poppy is a housemaid for the DeVere family, and when World War I starts affecting England, the family decides to move to a smaller house and let the great manor house be used as a hospital. They let most of the staff go, although Poppy is invited to stay on. After talking to a former teacher, Miss Luttrell, she finds that she can apply to be part of the Voluntary Aid Detachment and learn some nursing skills, and Miss Luttrell will even give her a bit of an allowance, having been saddened that such a bright pupil hadn't been able to go to college. Seeing that the world around her is changing, she applies and is accepted. As she starts training, her brother Billy joins up, and the son of the DeVere's, Frederick, does as well. She thinks that there is something more between her and Frederick, especially after she sees him at the memorial service for his older brother, who is killed in the war. Most of her time is spent on the wards, caring for the many wounded soldiers who lost limbs, eyesight, their faces and, in so many cases, their lives. I was thrilled to find out that there is a second book to this, called Poppy in the Field, which I hope is published soon in the US!
Strengths: Wow. Hooper does a fantastic job at taking the daily life of a fairly obscure person from history and bringing it to life. Her Fallen Grace and Velvet cover facets of life during the Victorian era, and I've long recommended At the Sign of the Sugared Plum (set during the plague and fire in London in 1665-66). I was surprised that we didn't see more books about WWI over the last few years, since it was, in my mind, even more pivotal and devastating than WWII, at least in Europe. Poppy also addressed the enormous social change in British society at the time. If you have any readers who have caught The Crimson Fields on PBS, this is an absolute must read.
Weaknesses: It's hard to get my students to read historical fiction, but I think I can sell this one as a romance and trick them into reading it!
What I really think: Definitely buying a copy. Love the cover!