Welcome to my stop on The Game of Love and Death blog tour, hosted by Rock Star Book Tours! I’m very happy to bring you my review of this book, which I really loved. Keep reading to the end, because there is a tour-wide giveaway of FIVE COPIES of the book (U.S. only)! Not familiar with this book? Here’s a little more about it:
Title: THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH
Author: Martha Brockenbrough
Pub. Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic)
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
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.
Achingly romantic and brilliantly imagined, The Game of Love and Death is a love story you will never forget.
Find the book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
The nitty-gritty: A beautifully written story that does a great job incorporating racial and sexual diversity, with a touch of a fairytale to it.
It would simplify so much if he wanted Helen. But while her skin was pale and creamy, and her elegant collarbones were visible over the neckline of her dress, the sight only reminded him that she had a skeleton beneath her flesh. He wanted love, and when he looked at her, he could only think of death.
What if Love and Death were friends and had known each other for thousands of years? What if they decided to use humans in a game in order to entertain themselves? Martha Brockenbrough has imagined just that scenario in The Game of Love and Death, where Love and Death are able to take on any guise they want to—including a cat and a sparrow—in order to slip into their roles as directors in the game of life.
Love and Death select Flora and Henry as their next players when they are but wee babes in their cribs. Death selects Flora and Love selects Henry, and Death bets Love that the two won’t fall in love, or he’ll claim the life of his player, Flora. Love agrees, and when they turn seventeen, the game begins. Henry and Flora are thrust together in different ways over the course of several months, with Love and Death manipulating their chance meetings and actions. Love poses as the “mayor” of the homeless community known as Hooverville, while Death takes over the body of a woman named Helen who is sent to stay with Henry and his family in the hopes that they will marry, thus taking Henry out of the game.
But despite the conniving of the two entities, Henry and Flora discover that they have much in common, and soon Henry is making excuses to see Flora when she performs at her jazz club. Love is blossoming, but with so many obstacles in their path, one wonders exactly how this game will turn out. Brockenbrough keeps the readers guessing up until the very end and throws in a twist or two which makes the story exciting.
There are many things to love about this book. First of all, you should know that Flora is African-American and Henry is white, and because the story takes place in 1937, you know that right off the bat their relationship will be an uphill battle. Segregation is in full swing (the story’s location is Seattle) and these two are not even supposed to be seen talking to each other. The way the author handled this part of the story was so well done. Flora is the one who protests her growing affection for Henry, while Henry does everything in his power to keep running into Flora.
And despite their differences on the outside, these two have lots in common—they are both skilled musicians. Henry is a bass player who is forced to squash his love of music in order to work a “real” job at a newspaper, while Flora has inherited her father’s jazz club and sings on stage in addition to running the club. I loved the role that music played in this story, and I appreciated that even though both Henry and Flora are talented and fiercely dedicated to their music, they still have trouble accepting that sparks are starting to fly between them. When their music should be bringing them together, it ends up keeping them apart.
Brockenbrough gives us not one, but two gay characters, who added another juicy layer to the story. Henry’s best friend Ethan (he lives with Ethan’s family because he’s an orphan) hasn’t come out yet—it would destroy his strict and very traditional father—but he’s secretly in love with Henry. He finds solace with James Booth, the self-proclaimed mayor of Hooverville but keeps the relationship a secret. Meanwhile, Ethan’s cousin Helen comes to stay for a while (she has been cast out of her family because of an affair with another woman), ostensibly as a possible future wife for Henry, but the twist is that Helen is Death, and she weasels her way into their lives and tries to ruin everything.
Everything is deliciously and intricately connected together, and you can practically see the strings attached to all the players, as Love and Death maneuver them into place for a final showdown.
Lots of real historical moments that happened in 1937 make an appearance, like the burning of the Hindenburg and the crash of Amelia Earhart’s plane, as the author suggests Love and Death are responsible for all great moments like this.
This is not your typical “happily ever after” story. Lots of dark things happen to these characters. Just when you think things are going well for Henry and Flora, Death pulls the rug out from under them. Still, this story is a fascinating exploration of how the world turns, how people stand up for and love each other, no matter what the obstacles.
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. Above quote was taken from an uncorrected proof and may differ in the final version of the book.
About the author:
Martha Brockenbrough (rhymes with broken toe) is the author of two books for adults and five books for young readers.
She’s the founder of National Grammar Day (every March 4), and she’s written game questions for Cranium and Trivial Pursuit. The former editor of MSN.com, Martha has interviewed lots of celebrities, including the Jonas Brothers and Slash (his favorite dinosaur is the diplodocus). Her work has been published in a variety of places, including The New York Times. She also wrote an educational humor column for the online encyclopedia Encarta for nine years.
She lives in Seattle with her family. Her favorite kind of food is Indian, although Thai runs a close second. Besides writing, she likes board games, playing music with the family band, travel to places far and near, drinking lots of coffee, and working out really hard at the gym.
Find Martha: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook |Pinterst | Tumblr | Goodreads
Follow the rest of the tour:
4/20/2015- Alice Marvels– Interview
4/21/2015- Books, Bones & Buffy– Review
4/22/2015- A Glass Of Wine– Guest Post
4/23/2015- Jump Into Books– Review
4/24/2015- IceyBooks– Interview
4/27/2015- Fiction Freak– Review
4/28/2015- Nerdophiles– Guest Post
4/29/2015- The Starry-Eyed Revue– Review
4/30/2015- Seeing Double In Neverland– Interview
5/1/2015- Winterhaven Books– Review
And now for the giveaway! FIVE lucky U.S. winners will receive a finished copy of The Game of Love and Death! Simply enter the Rafflecopter below to enter:
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