Review of The Game of Love and Death

brockenbrough_ game of love and deathThe Game of Love and Death
by Martha Brockenbrough
High School   Levine/Scholastic   332 pp.
5/15   978-0-545-66834-7   $17.99   g
e-book ed. 978-0-545-66835-4   $17.99

Love and Death have played many Games down through the centuries — and Death has always won. The setting for this particular battle is Depression-era Seattle, and while Love has chosen as his player Henry Bishop, a white boy taken in after his parents’ deaths by the wealthy Thorne family and raised in privilege and high society, Death has selected a scrappy survivor: Flora Saudade, an African American aviatrix who moonlights as a jazz singer. In fact, the two seventeen-year-olds’ shared love of music — Henry is also an accomplished bassist — inevitably brings them together despite the prevailing social stigma of interracial relationships. As the Game unfolds, Love and Death assume human identities to be closer to their players. Love becomes James Booth, the charismatic “mayor” of the local Hooverville. He begins a secret romantic relationship with Ethan Thorne, who has been like a brother to Henry. Death passes herself off as Ethan’s troubled cousin, Helen, a rival for Henry’s affections. Despite the machinations of Love and Death, Henry and Flora strive for a happy ending and earn one in a tender, sweet denouement. There is a deliberately archetypal quality to the story, but the fully realized setting and characters make this more than just a modern fairy tale. It’s a poignant reminder of how far we’ve come since the 1930s in terms of race, class, and sexual orientation — and how far we still have to go.

From the May/June 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.