The Orphan Collector starts in the fall of 1918 in an overcrowded, impoverished neighborhood in Philadelphia heavily populated by poor immigrants. The Lange family is from Germany and they face extreme anti-German sentiment. To prove their loyalty to America, the father enlists in the Army. The deadly Spanish flu is starting to spread. Thirteen year old Pia Lange, her mother and twin baby brothers attend the large Liberty Loan Parade. Soon after, the rate of deaths escalate.
Pia is left to care for her brothers. While seeking food, the twins are taken by Bernice, a neighbor who has just lost her own baby. She sees herself as rescuing the Lange baby boys from their German roots. Pia is taken to an orphanage while Bernice continues her quest to cleanse young immigrant orphans of their foreign heritage by placing them in the homes of “true Americans.”
The description of the devastation of the Spanish flu is harrowing and all too timely. The plight of Pia will break your heart. She is determined to find her brothers yet she is riddled with guilt over their disappearance. Bernice is pure evil.
This well-written book isn’t easy to read. The period was so bleak that at times it seemed hopeless. But amidst tragedy and heartlessness, the story has kind and caring people who bring humanity into this dark time.
I’m sure The Orphan Collector will stay with me for a long time.
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: July 28, 2020.
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