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9781554982219_cover Enlarge Cover
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list price: $9.95
also available: Paperback
published: Sep 2010

Queen of Hearts

by Martha Brooks

0 of 5
0 ratings
list price: $9.95
also available: Paperback
published: Sep 2010

Finalist for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People and the IODE Violet Downey Book Award, and an American Library Association Notable Children's Book and a Kirkus Reviews Best Book

It's 1941, and Canada is two years into World War II. Meanwhile, in rural Manitoba, fifteen-year-old Marie-Claire Cote begins a war of her own as she and her brother and sister, all stricken with tuberculosis, are taken by their anguished parents to "chase the cure" at nearby Pembina Hills Sanatorium.

While her roommate retains a dogged cheerfulness that is both heroic and irritating, Marie-Claire resists with all of her prideful strength while she fights her own illness and tries to seek privacy where there is none. Her father, overwhelmed by fear and guilt, never visits. And her young brother, Luc, who is losing his battle with TB in another wing of the infirmary, sends notes to her penned for him by his nineteen-year-old roommate, Jack Hawkings.

This is a story about surviving loss, and finding friendship, and love, in surprising places.

About the Author
Martha Brooks is an award-winning novelist, playwright and jazz singer whose books have been published in Spain, Italy, Japan, Denmark, England, Germany and Australia, as well as in Canada and the United States. She is a three-time winner of the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book of the Year, as well as the Ruth Schwartz Award, the Mr. Christie’s Book Award, the Governor General’s Award, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for her body of work. She lives in Winnipeg.
Author profile page >
Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
p to 17
Reading age:
  • Commended, YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults
  • Commended, ALA Notable Children's Books List
  • Short-listed, Manitoba Young Readers Choice Awards
  • Short-listed, Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People
  • Commended, Kirkus Best Teen Books of 2011
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens, Starred Selection
  • Short-listed, Manitoba Book Awards McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award
  • Commended, OLA Best Bets
  • Short-listed, IODE Violet Downey Book Award
Editorial Reviews

Brooks is rather a 'queen of hearts' herself when it comes to the depiction of a girl's adolescent intelligence, annoyance and desire, and here she works her magic once again.

— Toronto Star

...a story of survival and friendship...

— Winnipeg Free Press

...[readers] will sympathize with the book's prickly heroine...

— Publishers Weekly

...Brooks has been called the premier writer for the older adolescent. As great a compliment as that is, I think that sells her short.

— Lögberg-Heimskringla

...a moving portrait of hope.

— Quill & Quire

Much like a play in its discrete, focused scenes, this novel is that rarest of birds, a happily ending, nonsappy young adult romance.

— Horn Book Magazine, STARRED REVIEW

Readers will be held by the story’s heartbreaking truths, right to the end

— Booklist

Brooks masterfully re-creates a TB sanatorium through the protagonist’s experience and believable characters. A well-drawn, innocent, yet compelling work of historical fiction

— School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

...a careful, graceful novel, robust with sorrow and triumph in equal measure. It will leave the reader with both a chill down the spine and a lump in the throat.

— Globe and Mail

...an emotionally rich, stirring story about loss, friendship, love and healing.


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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Queen of Hearts

It is always a pleasure to review a new work by Martha Brooks. Like her earlier novels, Queen of Hearts is lovingly based in Manitoba, but here the author has created the intimate emotional and medical landscape of a TB sanatorium.

Fourteen-year-old Marie-Claire can see the San across the valley from her family’s farmhouse. As the book begins, Marie-Claire welcomes the reappearance of her favourite uncle, Gérard. But Gérard brings the family not only his captivating stories, but tuberculosis, “a hungry wolf that nobody saw coming” — a wolf that will not only kill him, but attack all of the children. Gérard, Marie-Claire, her beloved brother Luc and little sister Josée are sent to the Sanatorium to “chase the cure.” Only two will come home.

The first-person voice of Marie-Claire is that of a not very patient patient. Her grief, her anger at God, her frustration with the rest required for recovery, her courage are vivid. She wants nothing to do with new words like pneumothorax and thoracoplasty. With difficulty, she arrives at a fuller understanding of her family and her complicated friendship with her roommate, Signy. World War II is going on in the outside world; the girls listen to Tommy Dorsey and write to soldiers overseas, but the battle in the Sanatorium is for their own lives.

Although Brooks acknowledges valuable primary sources used in her research, it is her own experience growing up as the daughter of the medical superintendent at the Manitoba Sanatorium that gives her creation of this world such immediacy and poignancy. One feels fully the longing of the patients on the screened balconies, watching life unfold on the lawn below. The San is a unique, contained world of the TB patients and the community who care for them. It is a world in which flying a kite or simply holding a friend’s hand can be as life-giving — and charged — as a kiss from a young musician. The modern teen reader will understand the universal truths: the need to grow, the need to love and be loved.

This novel is a gift that rewards further reading with even greater riches.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2010. Volume 33 No. 4.

Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Queen of Hearts

It’s 1941, and Canada is two years into World War II. Fifteen-year-old Marie-Claire Côté begins a war of her own as she and her siblings are stricken with tuberculosis and are sent to a sanatorium to “chase the cure.” Marie-Claire longs for privacy, finds a loyal friend in her roommate and falls for fellow patient Jack Hawkings, the 19-year-old musician with the heart-stopping smile.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2011.

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