Thursday, July 5, 2012

book review: The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay

The backstory: I've been eager to read The Virgin Cure, Ami McKay's second novel, since Amy at Amy Reads reviewed it last fall when it was released in Canada.

The basics: The Virgin Cure is the story of Moth, a 12-year-old girl in New York City in 1871. Moth's father left when she was three, and her mother, a gypsy, lives in poverty so deep on Chrystie Street, she sells Moth as a servant to a rich woman.

My thoughts: Although Moth narrates her story, the reader is treated to helpful and explanatory notes in the text from Dr. Sadie, a female physician who works with poor women and children. With this balance, McKay manages to have a pure narrative from a young girl and provides the reader with context about the world in which Moth lives.

While the cover of this novel seems relatively innocuous, its title references something deeply sinister, and the book itself is filled with a sad story. The Virgin Cure is the kind of historical fiction that shakes readers to their cores. As I read, I desperately wanted to believe Moth's world didn't exist. I wanted to believe this novel was more fiction than history. I wanted to believe the experiences of girls like Moth are not part of our shared history. As I read A People's History of the United States earlier this year, I was struck by the statistics of orphans and poverty in the cities, but reading this novel made those numbers so much more real to me. It's a reminder why I continue to prefer the emotional resonance of fiction to non-fiction.

The verdict: The Virgin Cure wrecked me emotionally. McKay's powerful characters shined, and I felt their despair. While it's a story I wish weren't true, it's certainly a story that needed telling, and McKay proves she's a master of gritty historical fiction.

Rating: 5 out of 5
Length: 336 pages
Publication date: June 26, 2012
Source: publisher via TLC Book Tours

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy The Virgin Cure from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle version.)

Want more? Visit all the tour stops, stop by Ami McKay's website, find her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, or browse her boards on Pinterest.

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!

20 comments:

  1. I have a feeling I will enjoy this one as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and glad u loved it.

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    1. Diane, I'll look forward to your thoughts on this one. It was excellent historical fiction.

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  2. YES -- everything you say is true -- it really wrecked me -- and I loved every page. Gah, such a good book!!!

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    1. I'm so glad you agree with me on this one:-) I cannot wait to read her first novel!

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  3. I like the idea of the doctor adding some notes. I was interested in this book already, but seeing how highly you recommend it has made me certain that I must read it!

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    1. Sam, I think you'll enjoy this one--it's fascinating historical fiction.

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  4. You've certainly made me realize I want to read this book, Carrie. Thanks for a great review. Pinning it!

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    1. That reminds me to get back to pinning my own reviews of books I love. I think you'd like this one, Andi!

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  5. I am reading this one soon, so I am really excited to have read your review. It seems like the book hits many deep wells of emotion and that it provides a story that will be difficult and challenging, but also hauntingly important. Fantastic review today. I loved the way you wrote about this one.

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    1. Zibilee, I'll be curious to see how you feel about this one, as I know dark tales of children are often difficult for you. I hope you appreciate it as much as I do.

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  6. Ok, now I know I MUST read this!!! I will be adding it to my TBR here in the near future.

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    1. Jenny, I think you'd really like this one!

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  7. Wow, this book certainly seems to have packed an emotional punch! Definitely a book that will stay with the reader for a very long time.

    Thanks for being on the tour.

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    1. Heather, that's so true. I love a deep, emotional read.

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  8. Gosh you rated this novel so highly. I got to read it! I have the Birth House with me. Do you think this is better than Birth House?

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    1. JoV, I haven't read The Birth House yet, but I plan to this summer. I do know Amy at Amy Reads enjoyed it even more!

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  9. I'm with JoV: should we read The Birth House first? I have both books. Thanks for another fantastic review.

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    1. Vasilly, I haven't read The Birth House yet, but the two are unrelated. The author did tell me, however, that she's writing a sequel to The Virgin Cure!

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  10. While I do want to read this one, I'm not sure that I'm for being emotionally wrecked!

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    1. Come on, you know you want to....;-)

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!