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Of Better Blood

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  159 ratings  ·  55 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 1st 2016 by AW Teen
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3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  159 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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There are not enough stars available on any rating site for me to properly convey how much I loved “Of Better Blood.” It is hands-down one of the best young adult historical novels I have ever read.

The very subject of eugenics is seldom so thoroughly explored in fiction, and it is quite an eye-opener to discover that the dystopias we fear have always existed in some way. Winners write the history books, so not many students are taught that the United States was treating many of its citizens in t
I'll write a full review closer to the release date (February 2016) but for now here are my initial thoughts:

This was one of those books that isn't necessarily long but for some reason took me a while to finish. It was kind of draggy at times and I didn't care much for the pacing, and I was always surprised when I'd check my % and find that I hadn't read as much as I thought. I also didn't have much of a lasting connection with the characters, though I felt for the protagonist, especially with b
3.5 stars

This book would be great for a teen discussion group because the eugenics movement of the 1920s is something that most American history books "forget" to mention and it is a part of our story that needs to be talked about.

Moger's first novel was a very ambitious historical fiction story of Rowan, a well-off girl stricken with polio, who finds herself abandoned by her father and sister and shipped off to a "home". Eventually she ends up working for the Betterment Council and finds hers
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I know this author. I've taken several writing classes from her over the years and we've been in the same writing group off and on for over a decade. In that writing group I had heard bits and pieces of this novel, but it wasn't until I sat down to read it in its entirety that I was able to appreciate just how good it is.

This is a chilling story of abuse of power and ignorance passing as science. The eugenics movement was prejudice elevated t
Justin Turczak
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I liked the book but it could been better like could of been amazing and such. But I won this book in a contest so gave it a read. I know a lot of things were legit back in the day polio and what happened since my grand pa told me stories of it. And the freak shows so this was interesting to see how things happened with them. Over all I would suggest this book.
Carol Baldwin
Last April I reviewed Susan Moger's book, Teaching the Diary of Anne Frank. When she contacted me and asked if I would read and review her debut novel, OF BETTER BLOOD (Albert Whitman and Co. 2016), I agreed. After reading it I can tell you one thing for sure: Susan used all of her research about Hitler and the events leading up to World War II in order to write this young adult historical novel.

Teenage polio survivor Rowan Collier is caught in the crossfire of a secret war against “the unfit.”
"I understand that the fire is a turning point, a hinge. It opened a door inside me that I had given up looking for... After tonight I'm no longer someone who lets people do things to her."

The book is broken up into three different parts each taking place during one summer where Rowan goes on a multitude of different adventures, some she wanted to while others that she didn’t. Throughout these adventures we get to see a wide variety of characters as well as the disabilities that some of them had
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I’ll see you on the midway.” It took me some time to get into this novel but once I understood what was happening, I really enjoyed it. The relationship with Dorchy and Rowan was what made it so special and over-the-top for me. As I read it, little things about their bond made me smile and as the book came to an end, I realized I was going to miss them. They were quirky, they got each other but what really did it for me was how they connected to each other. There were times when they were oppos ...more
I had high hopes for this historical fiction story of the eugenics movement in 1920s America. After all, much of the YA dystopian stories out there are often based on the ideas of those that supported eugenics. What a cool premise to explore the origins of those ideas. Sadly, Of Better Blood did not live up to my expectations. It’s the story of Rowan, a privileged white girl living on the East Coast with her father and older sister, both of whom are big supporters of racial purity and removing t ...more
S.E. Anderson
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received an advance copy of this novel through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I'm a little torn on this novel. On the one hand, it had a fantastic premise, great characters, and I had a great time reading it. On there other, there were a few odd things that made me wonder what kind of book it really was. In the end, enjoyment overruled my opinion, and so I have to say I really did like it all in all.

Focusing on such a Eugenics driven america was both a) disturbing and b) utterly fa
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It’s unusual to find a book that combines elegant writing, compelling action, and historical accuracy, but Susan Moger manages all three in Of Better Blood. Rowan is the emotional core of this novel, a 16-year-old girl who is shunned by her family after she contracts polio. She ends up unwillingly playing a “cripple” in a “fitter families” show where she meets the brave, captivating carny, Dorchy. Through her friendship with Dorchy, Rowan is able to find the strength to fight against notions of ...more
Wilnona Marie
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Nice book. Not my style of book but the writing was extraordinarily well done.
I had a difficult time really getting into this one. I was initially curious about it because it mentioned 1920's America, the polio epidemic, and the US eugenics movement that disturbingly, most current Americans are oblivious to. I was reminded of it while chaperoning at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. this past year.

It was a bit slow to start and I was annoyed (impatient) at the initial passivity of Rowan, the main character. Then I was annoyed that too many things just seemed to lin
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have no doubt in my mind that this was an important story to explore from our history. The idea of eugenics during the polio epidemic of 1922(ish) is a pretty important theme. So, I can appreciate this story on that level.

But the rest of it? I couldn't figure out who this book was for. The writing, in general, seemed to be for ages 13+. But the characterization and simplicity of the plot seemed to be for much younger readers. There was so much of the characters just thinking about something an
Stacey Conrad
3.5 stars

I liked this historical fiction about a girl who becomes a pawn in the Eugenics movement, because of polio. The author's note at the end talks about a little of what was happening in the early 20th century--forced sterilization of "unfit" people. "Unfit" being defined as anyone from a broken home, not physically perfect, etc; as you can imagine. I wanted more from this story, but I do think that there are constraints from the time setting that make a difference in how young girls behave
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
The pacing feels totally off, as if the first half of the book didn't really need to exist, but it really is a fascinating look at a subject in history that doesn't get much notice, especially not here in the States. It inspired me to research more into the subject of eugenics in the United States, so props for that.
Elizabeth Mathis
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 cri
Jun 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Historical fiction based on the the eugenics movement during the 1920s that morphed into a type of quasi historical dystopian novel with more shock and awe than historical accuracies as admitted to by the author in her end notes.
May 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
An interesting look at the idea of sterilization and Fitter Families that occurred in America after the polio epidemic. The characters didn't hold my interest.
Sky Postell
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-read
This shocked me and was well written. I can't believe I didn't know about this.
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting book about the eugenics movement of the early 1900s. It reminded me a lot of a historical version of Wake Up Missing, with less plot structure. Liked it, but didn't love it.
Edward Sullivan
Engrossing historical fiction set against the eugenics movement at the height of its popularity in the early 20th century.
Feb 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
I didn't like the book, but a fascinating piece of history that I had never heard about.
Susan Reeves deMasi
Oct 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Historical fiction based on the Eugenics movement of the early 20th century. Started off fine, but the final third just didn't go anywhere.
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it
I really loved the first 2/3rds of the book. I loved that the main character was differently abled, I loved that it gave insight into the history of the eugenics movement within America - we often think of ethnic cleansing as a problem for other countries, but it was widespread in the early 20th century.

My first problem came when Rowan escaped with Dorchy, and they entered into what seemed like a fantasy realm. A book which had so far been good historical fiction suddenly felt more like a fanta
Bruce Gargoyle
I received a digital copy of this title from the publisher via Netgalley.

Ten Second Synopsis:
After contracting polio at age eleven, Rowan is left with a twisted leg and uses a crutch to get around. On being all but abandoned by her father and sister for her "genetic weaknesses", Rowan meets carny girl Dorchy and the two work together to escape the Fitter Families exhibition and the far more sinister "camp for unfortunates" on Loup Island.

What an interesting mash-up of genres and issues this stor
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maureen Lubitz
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted on You Have Your Hands Full

I received a copy of this book from Albert Whitman & Company/Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoy reading young adult historical fiction, so I was very excited about the opportunity to read Of Better Blood. Author Susan Moger has written several educational books and teaching materials, but this is her first novel.

Rowan Collier comes from a “good” family. She lives with her father and older sister in relative affluence, but that all
Sep 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
Honestly really hurtful that the author describes this book as being inspired by Anne Frank, by the targeting of Jews by eugenicists, and yet there is not a single Jewish character in the book. There were Jews in the United States! And there were Jews who COULD NOT GET INTO THE UNITED STATES! This was the Quota Period! The United States was deliberately keeping us out and leaving us to die in Europe! Why are there no Jews in this book???

I understand maybe not wanting to write about the Holocaus
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
I happened upon this book at the summer day camp where I've been helping in the afternoons several days a week. One of the field trips the campers took was to the library and one of them picked this book out. I picked it up, read the inside cover and promptly decided it sounded interesting. So I started reading it.

Unfortunately, the book didn't really live up to what was on said cover. I felt like 2/3rds of this book was nothing really happening. I mean, there are these girls and they run away f
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