Magda, Standing by Christine Fallert Kessides

Magda, Standing by Christine Fallert Kessides
Publisher: Bold Story Press
Genre: Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.), Romance, Historical
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

When her father pulls her out of high school to care for her invalid mother and little brother, sixteen-year-old Magda is devastated—but the greater challenge is saving her family in the face of a war and pandemic.

In 1916, the world is at war, even if America has not yet joined the effort. But for Magda, the growing hostility her German immigrant family faces hits close to home. Despite her domestic obligations, Magda persists with her education, determined to find an independent role for herself. Faced with the mounting crises of the war and the Spanish flu, Magda seeks the knowledge and strength to try to protect those she loves most.

Standing up to a war and pandemic, traditions and expectations, Magda embarks on a journey of self-discovery and resilience that leads her back to embracing her family and caring for a wider community.

Courage comes in many different forms.

Some of the most memorable scenes were the ones that explored Magda’s personality and character development over the years. She could be quite stubborn at times, but there was always something admirable to be found in her optimistic attitude and determination to make a better life for herself. It was rewarding to see how she matured as she grew older and took note of the many experiences she had, from lighthearted moments with her talkative baby brother to heartbreaking ones that I’ll leave for other readers to discover for themselves.

This book included over sixty different characters. I struggled to keep up with who everyone was and how they were connected to each other even though I was deeply invested in what might happen to Magda and her family next. It would have been helpful to have a list of characters before the first chapter so I could refer to it when I needed a refresher on whether any two characters were relatives, friends, lovers, neighbours, or acquaintances. As much as I otherwise yearned to give this a full five-star rating, this was a stumbling block to do that.

Ms. Fallert Kessides had a smooth and beautiful writing style that made it hard for me to step away from the storyline. She knew exactly when to transition from describing characters to pushing the plot forward, and she kept me up late reading more than one night. Based on what a positive first experience I had with her work, I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye out for her future projects.

Magda, Standing was an engrossing read.

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