Pharmacy Girl

The Great War, Spanish Influenza, and the Truth about Billy Detwiler

Children - Preteen
310 Pages
Reviewed on 05/25/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite

Pharmacy Girl by Kate Szegda is a story of The Great War, Spanish Influenza, and the Truth about Billy Detwiler. It’s 1918 and a war is raging. The First World War is still being fought but another deadly battle is also being fought, one of the biggest battles we would have to face. A tiny virus, transported in the air, affected a quarter of Americans, killing over 600,000. The Spanish Flu ravaged the States. There was no vaccine to fight it. Hospitals didn’t have medicines or ventilators. Twelve-year-old Josie is liked by everyone. Well, except for Billy Detwiler. He calls Josie 'The Pharmacy Girl' but it’s an insult, not a compliment. She wants to help everyone and, when her mother is struck down with the flu, she jumps into action. She goes up against Billy in the class elections, helps her family, and helps raise money for the Liberty Loan. But, how much can a teenager do? Although Billy is dead against her, all of a sudden, he needs her help. Will Josie give it or will she turn her back on the one person who needs her?

Pharmacy Girl by Kate Szegda is a story of hope, a story so pertinent to the world we live in today it’s almost scary – especially since this book was first published before COVID was even heard of. The characters are wonderful, dishing out the same advice we’ve all come to know so well over the last year or so – stay away from others, wear a mask, wash your hands – advice that some take note of and others choose to ignore. The story is based on real situations drawn from the author’s family and historical facts. It’s heartwarming, funny, and serious all at the same time and all the different threads are drawn seamlessly together at the end. This is one book that perhaps everyone should read, not just the audience it was written for – it may teach a lot of people a few hard lessons!