It’s 1926 and Althea Anderson is a nurse in training at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital working in the obstetrics ward. When she sees that the doctor in charge refuses to try and save premature infants, she is outraged. When Margaret Perkins is born three months early at two pounds, two ounces, Althea tells the parents that there is a doctor in Coney Island who is saving babies by using state-of-the-art incubators. Dr. Couney does not charge but makes money by placing his hospital on display in a sideshow within Luna Park, a popular amusement park. The father wants no part of this. Unable to allow Margaret to simply die, Althea brings the baby to Luna Park, putting her career in jeopardy. In 1950, Stella Wright, a young special education teacher, is fighting for resources for her neglected students as her school principal views them as uneducable. Stella is also grieving the loss of her mother. While cleaning out her mother’s home, she uncovers a shocking family secret which sets her on a journey of self-discovery. The strength of each of these women, whose stories come together, provides a highly engaging and moving tale.
This wonderful book has so much going for it. The main characters are complex, strong women. With some exceptions, the men are warm and supportive adding a nice element of romance. Author Addison Armstrong, in a highly impressive debut, has done an excellent job presenting the two periods of time reflecting the roles of women, the state of medicine, the spread of eugenics and the plight of returning veterans. The theme of love and sacrifice never gets old. Historical fiction fans will especially enjoy The Light of Luna Park.
Many thanks to G.P. Putnam's Sons / Penguin Group and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this memorable book in advance of its publication.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: August 10, 2021.
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