Magda, Standing by Christine Fallert Kessides is a
brilliant coming-of-age with strong historical underpinnings. The story follows
sixteen-year-old Magda who is forced to drop out from high school to look after
her ailing mother and her little brother. Her dreams of completing her
education and pursuing an independent life are completely shattered. Family
woes are a huge challenge for her but the war makes everything even more
difficult. It is 1916 and being born into a German immigrant family, Magda has
to bear the distrust and hostility from many around her. In the meantime, the
Spanish Flu continues to claim lives. Can Magda protect her family and define
her place in an age of war and health crisis?
Kessides' novel is a story of grit that examines a young heroine's coming-of-age in a complicated time in American history. This gut-wrenching, beguiling historical novel is written in fine prose and it features a female protagonist that instantly wins the hearts of readers. It is interesting to follow Magda as she deals with external circumstances that derail her from the normal course her life should have taken, but her grit and determination to be independent and to shape not only her destiny but the life of her community will inspire readers. The book doesn't just examine what it feels like to take on the role of an adult as a teenager, but makes readers experience it through the emotions and struggles of the young protagonist. There is consistency in the narrative voice, which is sharp and enticing. Magda, Standing by Christine Fallert Kessides is vividly rendered, cleverly plotted, and a story with unforgettable characters and a setting that comes to life in the imagination of readers.