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Book Review: Nineteen Hundred Days

Nineteen Hundred Days. Florence Osmund. CreateSpace, April 16, 2018, Trade Paperback and E-Book, 211 pages. 

Reviewed by Ed Marohn.

Nineteen Hundred Days begins with twelve-year-old, Ben Mattis, and his six-year-old sister, Lucy, realizing that they have been abandoned by their parents. The father is an unemployed alcoholic while the mother works as a caregiver for an old lady in order to provide for her family. However, Ben has been basically caring for his sister, including home schooling, largely unsupervised by the parents. Without real social interaction, both kids are distrustful of the world outside their rundown house, relying on themselves to get through each day until a parent comes home.

Now it is different. The parents do not return home and there is no communication from them. Ben panics. He is concerned about providing food and basic needs for his sister and himself. He is also concerned about them being separated and placed into foster homes, creating an overgrown fear that drives the kids to hide from the sheriff who attempts to locate them at the house. Using the cellar and the secret little room in the parent’s bedroom closet, they hide from the different visitors trying to locate them. Ben’s paranoia and need to protect and stay with his little sister forces him to choose unrealistic paths to avoid the police and social workers. They eventually pack some essentials and flee their house. 

The novel is fast paced, but an adult reader may become critical about Ben’s decisions, which become foolhardy and dangerous. Ben and Lucy are not mature or sophisticated. Out of fear of their unknown future, and having been sheltered most of their lives, they strike out into an alien world. Ben’s defensiveness as a twelve-year-old is prominent and drives the story, making him a character both liked and disliked. I recommend you read the book and get into the heads of these young kids and discover what happened to the parents.

My final note is that the novel would be a great read for young adults. It identifies very well with the mental state of youth when confronted with the unknown. Furthermore, it explores the choices made by the novel’s youthful characters when facing a crisis.


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