Teenage polio survivor Rowan Collier is caught in the crossfire of a secret war against "the unfit." It's 1922, and eugenics?the movement dedicated to racial purity and good breeding?has taken hold in America. State laws allow institutions to sterilize minorities, the "feeble-minded," and the poor, while local eugenics councils set up exhibits at county fairs with "fitter family" contests and propaganda. After years of being confined to hospitals, Rowan is recruited at sixteen to play a born cripple in a county fair eugenics exhibit. But gutsy, outspoken Dorchy befriends Rowan and helps her realize her own inner strength and bravery. The two escape the fair and end up at a summer camp on a desolate island run by the New England Eugenics Council. There they discover something is happening to the children. Rowan must find a way to stop the horrors on the island…if she can escape them herself.
Of Better Bloodby Susan Moger
Of Better Blood is a different kind of read--not a feel-good read for certain. It is a fictionalized account of what happens when prejudices and preconceived notions of who is useful in society and who is not lead to actions that are never justifiable.
I struggled getting into this book. The first third of the books hops back and forth in time. The transitions weren’t quite as seamless as I would have liked and as compared to other books that employ this type of loop timeline. The language is quite plain and the descriptions are not as vivid as I would have expected given the subject matter.
The main character, Rowan, is a highly likable character. She is courageous, a critical thinker, and unselfish. She is the hero multiple times in the book and by the end you are rooting for her to get everything she desires. Dorchy, her sidekick, is also a lovable character. Little bit rogue, whole lot of brave, Dorchy becomes the underdog character you find yourself cheering for.
This book deals with some tough subject matter. The concepts of eliminating or segregating those that are unfit was certainly a well-known concept during the time period of the early twentieth century. Eugenics, while never a widely accepted division of science, was nonetheless a public one and endorsed by many famous people of the day. Due to the subject matter, I would recommend young teens wait on this one, and older teens should read with a critical mind. This book is well suited for a group discussion read.
Overall, a middle of the road read but fodder for in-depth critical discussions on ethics and morality.
Language: 9 mild obscenities; 1 derogatory name.
Violence/Gore: Teen drops fake baby in play; man pretends to slap woman in play; child punches an adult; man runs into a bramble resulting in thorn injuries; child slaps another child; man slaps girl in face and twists arm; child hits head during seizure resulting in bloody wound; adults raps a child on the head with their knuckles; adult tries to stab child with needle; house fire where characters narrowly escape; pictures of dead children found; children cough blood or have bloody noses while ill (5 times with 1 extended scene);
Sex/Nudity: Teens hold hands once; adult caresses girls knee, innuendo (twice); mention of adult kissing child, innuendo.
Mature Subject Matter:
Eugenics, death of family members and children, contemplated suicide, euthanasia, medical experimentation on children without consent, forced sterilization, abandonment of children by parents, stealing, ethics.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Adult actor portrays drinking whiskey; adult smokes pipe; teen smokes; adults drink wine at dinner.
Reviewed By Beckie