Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Sheeri L. Smith
For ages 14 and up
Penguin, 2013   ISBN: 978-0399252945

From 2014 to 2017, Louisiana and the other states typically affected by hurricanes were hit hard by category 4 and category 5 hurricanes. The people living in the region barely had a chance to recover before Hurricane Jesus hit in 2019. Jesus was a category 6 hurricane and an estimated 8,000 people died because of the storm. The deaths continued after the storm was over because people were not able to get treatment for once treatable diseases such as diabetes and asthma. Then Delta Fever came, a disease that attacked the blood and that could not be cured. In 2020 the American government decided to seal off the affected Gulf Coast area. People could not cross the border unless they had been tested for Delta Fever. Just five years later, the U.S. Government took the drastic step of separating from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. A huge wall was built to cut these areas off from the rest of the United States.

It is now 2056 and Fen de La Guerre, a member of the O-Positive tribe, is getting supplies for her chieftain, Lydia. Lydia is pregnant and Fen is determined that they will have everything the baby needs when it arrives. To try to contain the spread of Delta Fever most of the people living in the Gulf States have formed tribes based on blood type. Everybody is a carrier for the disease at this point but some have a harder time than others. AB’s need transfusions regularly, and O positive blood is so desirable that O positives are often hunted down and put into blood farms.

When Fen gets back home to her O-Positive tribe, they are getting ready for a powwow that they are holding that evening. Lydia hopes to be able to make some kind of peaceful deal with the O-Negatives. The powwow barely gets going when the gathering is attacked by a group of ABs. Fen manages to avoid being killed and when she finds Lydia, the chieftain is in labor. Fen is able to deliver the baby, but Lydia does not survive the birth. Before Lydia dies, she makes Fen promise that she will do her best to make sure that the baby will have a better life than Lydia has had.

Fen decides that the best thing to do is to go and talk to Mr. Go, a man who knew Fen’s parents. Mr. Go cared for Fen after the death of her parents, and he was the one who took Fen to Lydia. Hopefully Mr. Go will know how to get the baby to safety. They need to get her out of the Delta region and to the Outer States before she is able to contract Delta Fever.

As she is making her way to Mr. Go’s refuge, Fen meets a young scientist, Daniel, who has managed to get over the Wall without being detected by the authorities. Daniel has been working on a cure for Delta Fever and though he is close, he needs more information about the illness, information that he believes he will find at a research facility in Orleans. Fen ends up helping the young man who does not know anything about the world he has entered. Together they face all kinds of dangers, helping each other reach their goals, and in the process they find out some terrible secrets about Orleans and the people who live there.

This powerful, gritty, and often disturbing story gives readers a picture of what can happen when law and order goes by the wayside and when disease and fear takes over. The rules change dramatically and people have to build alliances and develop new strategies to survive. Fen’s voice is painfully honest, and readers will enjoy seeing how she teaches Daniel about her world and how he turns out to be an asset instead of a liability.