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Of Better Blood by Susan Moger

Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Teenage polio survivor Rowan Collier is caught in the crossfire of a secret war against "the unfit." It's 1922, and eugenics the movement dedicated to racial purity and good breeding has taken hold in America. State laws allow institutions to sterilize minorities, the "feeble-minded," and the poor, while local eugenics councils set up exhibits at county fairs with "fitter family" contests and propaganda. After years of being confined to hospitals, Rowan is recruited at sixteen to play a born cripple in a county fair eugenics exhibit. But gutsy, outspoken Dorchy befriends Rowan and helps her realize her own inner strength and bravery. The two escape the fair and end up at a summer camp on a desolate island run by the New England Eugenics Council. There they discover something is happening to the children. Rowan must find a way to stop the horrors on the island if she can escape them herself."

Goodreads Summary

I love books based in historical fact and Of Better Blood was definitely fascinating.  It was a bit of a surprise to me that a eugenics movement actually existed in America given our denouncement of it when Germany began to follow that thought process.  There was so much fact packed into this book and much of it was horrifying.  Rowan is a young lady born with no discernible physical problems, but who developed them after polio.  Her main source of income is to pretend that she is inept and act out her ineptitude in front of an audience in promotion of eugenics.  Her own sister is a part of the society that makes Rowan perform and calls her a cripple.  

Rowan and Dorchy leave the Betterment society and end up at a Eugenics summer camp where conditions are certainly no better.  The book is rife with sterilizations, horrible names, prejudices, and fear of the different.  The author inserted many surprising names as supporters of eugenics-from US presidents to Edison.  The book was a little slow for me in parts and it was difficult to connect to the main characters although I found them brave and felt bad for them.  This book would be ideal for young adult/teen readers.

4 Stars

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