Heather's Reviews > The Virgin Cure

The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay
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Jun 12, 12

bookshelves: tlc-book-tours
Read from June 12 to 23, 2012

Moth, an unusual and mystical-sounding name given her by an errant father, is one of the unfortunate born into poverty and misfortune, and yet she is...gifted. She is special.

Moth is smart and adaptable and almost fearless. A twelve-year-old girl, she is forsaken by her mother, a local mystic and fortune-teller, but she determinedly finds her way, via a path to an "infant school". An infant school would be considered very upsetting and disturbing to any woman of this generation, but for a young girl on her own in the late 1800s of Manhattan, it could be her only saving grace. Some of these girls came to the "school" of their own accord, others were sold to them by poverty-stricken relatives.

In "infant schools", young girls were taught all about how to charm a man, how to intrigue him and entice him, and hold his interest. How to drive up her own worth in his eyes, so that he would be willing to pay a large sum for her "innocence". Then her virginity would be sold for a pretty penny, and the girl could then opt to leave the school to fend for herself, or to become a professional prostitute.

I loved this story, and I found author Ami McKay's writing to be very effective and moving. The book also has little tidbits and notes in the margins that give you a glimpse into the era and at times explain a little about a topic in the story. One of things you learn from one of these tips is the disturbing reality that in 1871 "under common law, the age of consent was ten years of age. (In Delaware it was seven)" How's that for shocking?

The one complaint that I have is that sometimes it was hard to discern the transition from the story to a news article or a "diary entry" or letter by the doctor. Perhaps they could have used different typeface and margins and such to make it easier to indicate the switch?

My final word: At times shocking and disturbing, but overall a very moving and satisfying read, I highly recommend this book. This story isn't for the faint of heart, but this rare gem is perfect for someone looking for a new kind of heroine-- a heroine perhaps not as delicate and fancy as one of those frilly butterflies, but a Moth gritty and spunky enough to knock the dust off her wings and take flight once again...
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06/12/2012 page 20
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