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Monday, 2 February 2015

Review: Poppy

It’s December 1914 and Poppy Pearson moves from working as a parlour maid for the wealthy De Vere family to train as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse. Leaving service, Poppy doesn’t really expect to see any of the family she worked for again, especially not their younger son Freddie, with whom she’s had a mild, innocent flirtation. But who knows what could happen in these times?

The world is changing and so are Poppy’s chances to make something of her dreams. Training doesn’t prepare Poppy for the reality of war though, and she is shocked by her first encounter with wounded soldiers on a hospital train. However, she stands firm in her determination to contribute to the war effort and soon finds herself assisting with dressings, scrubbing lockers, distributing meals, making beds, writing letters, and comforting the soldiers.

Poppy is confronted by the injuries and trauma she is faced with and learns from the soldiers she meets. Among them a fifteen year old who enlisted only to lose his leg, and a young man who loses the will to regain his health after his twin is killed. Then there’s the friendly young doctor who seems to want to get to know her better, and Poppy’s brother whose bravado will be challenged in ways Poppy could never have imagined. In fact, “Sometimes she felt she couldn’t bear another moment of this war.”

This story doesn’t pull any punches. Men with horrific injuries, shell shock, self-inflicted injuries, and prisoners of war are all discussed with honesty. Mary Hooper is an expert at recreating times past, and you will feel immersed in the experience of nursing the soldiers, and emotionally affected by all the characters.

As Poppy ends, on Christmas Day 1915, Poppy makes a sudden, momentous decision. It’s one that will play out in the forthcoming sequel, Poppies in the Field.

Title: Poppy
Author: Mary Hooper
Publisher: Bloomsbury, $15.99 RRP
Publication Date: May 2014
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781408827628
For ages: 12+
Type: Young Adult Fiction

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