Reviews of The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

The Game of Love and Death

by Martha Brockenbrough

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough X
The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2015, 352 pages

    Paperback:
    Apr 2015, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Ellis Smith
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About this Book

Book Summary

Not since The Book Thief has the character of Death played such an original and affecting part in a book for young people.

Flora and Henry were born a few blocks from each other, innocent of the forces that might keep a white boy and an African American girl apart; years later they meet again and their mutual love of music sparks an even more powerful connection. But what Flora and Henry don't know is that they are pawns in a game played by the eternal adversaries Love and Death, here brilliantly reimagined as two extremely sympathetic and fascinating characters. Can their hearts and their wills overcome not only their earthly circumstances, but forces that have battled throughout history? In the rainy Seattle of the 1920s, romance blooms among the jazz clubs, the mansions of the wealthy, and the shanty towns of the poor. But what is more powerful: love? Or death?

Chapter 1
Friday, February 13, 1920

The figure in the fine gray suit materialized in the nursery and stood over the sleeping infant, inhaling the sweet, milky night air. He could have taken any form, really: a sparrow, a snowy owl, even a common housefly. Although he often traveled the world on wings, for this work he always preferred a human guise.

Standing beneath a leaded glass window, the visitor, who was known as Love, removed a small, pearl-headed pin from his tie and pricked his finger. A bead of blood rose and caught the reflection of the slice of moon that hung low in the late winter sky. He bent over the cradle and slid his bleeding fingertip into the child's mouth. The baby, a boy, tried to suckle, his forehead wrinkling, his small hands curling into fists.

"Shh," the figure whispered. "Shh." This player. He could not think of one he'd loved more.

After a time, Love slipped his finger out of the boy's mouth, satisfied that the blood had given the ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Brockenbough's imagining of Love and Death as living, breathing characters is nuanced and thoughtful and endlessly fascinating. The story builds with perfectly placed obstacles, and suspense hangs on every page. Love and Death, like Henry and Flora, are inextricably entwined; they are a tender couple that fill, for one another, what the other so desperately needs. The Game of Love and Death is a young-adult novel, suited for kids in Grade 6 and up, but it is equally compelling for anyone who has experienced love, at any age...continued

Full Review (847 words).

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(Reviewed by Tamara Ellis Smith).

Media Reviews

Booklist
Starred Review. This original novel is a thoughtful exploration of courage, love, and the price we pay to live.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Race, class, fate and choice - they join Love and Death to play their parts in Brockenbrough's haunting and masterfully orchestrated narrative.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Brockenbrough (Devine Intervention) never sugarcoats the obstacles facing Henry and Flora's love - whether human prejudices or supernatural manipulations - in this inventive and affecting novel, and the ending in which Flora, who has seen too many people die, realizes how love and death intertwine, is beautiful. Ages 12–up.

School Library Journal
An interracial YA romance with weighty themes.

Author Blurb Gabrielle Zevin, author of Elsewhere and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
The Game of Love and Death is a unique love story, and yet, it is also the love story of all humans through time. Martha Brockenbrough is a compassionate observer of many worlds–airfields, jazz clubs, baseball diamonds, newspapers, and Hoovervilles to name a few –and the beautiful, doomed human types that dwell in them. This is an exceptional novel.

Author Blurb Justina Chen, author of North of Beautiful and A Blind Spot for Boys
The Game of Love and Death is a sweeping tour de force of imagination and heart. Entire passages begged to be reread both for the startling insights about life and for the sheer pleasure of basking in masterful language. A bold statement about the games we play and all the life--and love--that's possible when we stop. Shelve this one next to The Book Thief.

Author Blurb Robin LaFevers, New York Times–bestselling author of Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph
The Game of Love and Death weaves a complex tapestry of love and longing, destiny and hope. Daringly conceived and brilliantly executed, it is not only an intimately human story, but one that encompasses the very nature of love and death. Rich, wise, and deeply satisfying–the story will linger in your heart long after you've turned the final page.

Author Blurb Sean Beaudoin, author of The Infects and Wise Young Fool
Martha Brockenbrough has a musician's ear and a lover's heart. This terrific and beguiling novel is one of my favorites of the year, and while I'm reading it for a second time, I'm absolutely certain you should join me.

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Beyond the Book

Aviation in 1937

Flora Saudade, one of the primary protagonists in Martha Brockenbough's The Game of Love and Death is an aviatrix. The novel takes place in 1937, a year that was full of aviation inventions and adventures. Here are a few highlights:

  • January 19 – Howard Hughes (pilot, businessman and investor) set a new world record, flying from Los Angeles to New York City in 7 hours, 28 minutes and 25 seconds.

  • Amelia Earhart March 17 – Early in 1936 Amelia Earhart began to plan her trek across the world. It would not be the first flight of its kind but the plan was for it to be the longest. Earhart would take an equatorial route, which would be 29,000 miles. Funded by Purdue, where she was working, a Lockheed Electra 10E airplane was built to ...

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