I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, so I was very excited about the opportunity read Poppy by Mary Hooper.
Poppy Pearson is a young woman living in England during World War I. She is working as a maid in a grand house, but she has bigger dreams. Poppy did well in school, but she needed to take the position in the de Vere household to help supplement her family’s income.
Poppy receives the opportunity to train as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse. The bulk of the novel deals with her experiences working in a hospital in England that receives injured soldiers as they return from the battlefields in France. Hard work and taking orders are not as much of an adjustment for her as they are for some of the girls who come from more affluent backgrounds.
Poppy learns how to care for the injured soldiers, and her presence provides comfort to these young men. Poppy sees some rather gruesome injuries, and although she learns to control her reactions, she never becomes accustomed to what she sees. She soldiers on (so to speak) and performs her duties to the best of her abilities.
This is a lovely and sweet book. Poppy matures over the course of the book. She makes some new friends, and there is even a hint of romance- although this is hardly her priority. As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Great War, it is important to remember the sacrifices that a generation of young men made for their country. This is, of course, a fictionalization, but Hooper inserts period details to lend a strong sense of realism to the book.
I would absolutely recommend Poppy. The book is written for a young adult audience, but there might be some appeal for older middle grade readers as well. This is an interesting portrayal of home front life, and there’s a great message of the importance of doing one’s part, and that everyone’s part is integral. This is my first experience with Mary Hooper, and I am looking forward to reading more of her books- especially the sequel to Poppy!