Author: Martha Brockenbrough
Info: Arthur A. Levine Books, copyright 2015, 352 pages
Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now... Henry and Flora.
For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always.
Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?
Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured—a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him.
The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.
I've been talking about this book a bit on various social media feeds for work, but I thought I'd give it a mention on TheGnomingLibrarian as well. It completely missed my radar when it came out in 2015! Just a few weeks ago I saw the cover come up in Goodreads so I added it to my list and started looking for the audio version in Overdrive. Everything else I wanted to read had a holds list, so I checked it out and listened to the whole thing in a day (while cleaning out my fridge which is one of the Dante's rings of hell...)
There is a long standing "game" between Love and Death that puts two souls together - one chosen by Love and one chosen by Death. If the two fall in love, then they both get to live, but if they don't truly fall in love (choose each other above all else), then Death gets to claim the life of her player. Love has never won. The stakes are high for Flora, an African American girl who dreams of owning her own plane and flying around the world, and Henry, an orphan who dreams of playing jazz music and attending school. In that certain time and certain place, the relationship that blossoms is looked down upon by society, but Flora and Henry decide to make their own rules.
Was this a perfect book? No. While I loved the characters of Love and Death working behind the scenes, there was a bit of "insta"love between our two lead humans. They see each other and there is "something" - and that "something" becomes more without a lot of interaction and relationship building. But I really liked Flora, and I really liked Henry, and that's why I think this story works.
The historical setting of the Great Depression ups the ante, and the influence of the immortals makes things really interesting. There was no doubting how the story would really end, but the journey was sweet, compassionate, forgiving, and lovely.
It was just the kind of book that I needed to take my mind off the fridge cleaning.