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Fiction Ages 9-12
Pages: 232
Themes: Spanish flu epidemic, 1900s North America, class system
Publisher: Second Story Press
Pub Date: 01/Apr/2012
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Thirteen-year-old Meredith yearns to become a teacher but must help support her family, so she travels to the city to work as kitchen help in a doctor's household. Conflicts with the butler, and with Maggie, the doctor's spoiled thirteen-year-old daughter, threaten her job from the start. As Spanish flu sweeps the world and reaches their city, members of the household fall ill one by one. Only Meredith, Maggie and Jack, Maggie's handsome older brother, are left to care for them. Every day the newspaper's list of yesterday's dead adds to Meredith's growing fear. Forced to cope, Meredith finds a strength and maturity beyond her years and shows herself to be a true hero despite her lowly station in the household. As Meredith wrestles with questions of duty and responsibility, she opens the door to a future that she thought had been closed forever.

Quill & Quire
"The story's pacing is pitch-perfect, and Bourke advances the plot at just the right clip. She uses dialogue to great advantage, both as a tool for defining her characters and for introducing different opinions on the epidemic...A well-written story with an engaging protagonist. Both witness and survivor, Meredith pulls readers through the crisis and touches the lives of everyone around her. Bourke does a great job of calling attention to a brief but important moment in history."
CM Magazine
"Bourke quietly conveys the impact of the Great War and the Spanish flu on our then fledgling country of just over 8 million people. Many of our ancestors were scarred by these tragedies. Yet the historical elements never overwhelm the human story of Meredith and her friends. Realistic dialogue, skilled pacing and evocative detail bring them to life and make the reader sorry when the novel ends. Yesterday's Dead truly deserves praise and prizes. Highly Recommended."
Kirkus Reviews
"Meredith's very human fluctuations between despair and determination in the face of tragedy add considerably to the authenticity of her character. A gripping depiction of a tragic epidemic and the sometimes heroic responses of those affected."
Susie Bookworm blog
"A quick, highly informative historical read, perfect for its intended audience and for others of us as well."
School Library Journal
"The main characters are finely drawn, especially Meredith...The story vividly depicts the family's fear and the victims' suffering."
"The story is well-crafted, leaves readers wanting to know more about this awful disease, and has readers empathizing for the plight of, and ultimately the extraordinary leadership skills of, Meredith...This is a good readalike for those interested in Lois Lowry's Like the Willow Tree: The Diary of Lydia Amelia Pierce, Portland, Maine, 1918."
Resource Links
"This well-written and perfectly paced novel will keep readers thoroughly engaged as they feel as if they are right there along with Meredith."


Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People nominee  | 2013 | Short-listed
Manitoba Young Reader's Choice Award nominee  | 2013 | Short-listed
Violet Downey Book Award nominee  | 2013 | Short-listed
Silver Birch Award nominee  | 2014 | Short-listed
SYRCA Snow Willow nominee  | 2014 | Short-listed

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