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The Orphan Collector

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  11,154 ratings  ·  1,774 reviews
In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old German immigrant Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia’s overcrowded slums and the anti-immigrant sentiment that compelled her father to enlist in the U.S. Army. But as her city celebrates the end of war, an even more urgent threat arrives: the Spanish flu. Funeral crepe and quarantine signs appear on doors as victims drop dead ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 28th 2020 by Kensington Publishing Corp.
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  11,154 ratings  ·  1,774 reviews

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Angela M
Aug 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars.

I had a feeling that a book about the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 wasn’t going to be an easy one to read during the current pandemic and that may be why I put off reading it. It was definitely difficult, not just because some things sounded eerily familiar, but because most of the story is pretty bleak and there are some pretty gruesome scenes. Wiseman Paints this bleak picture of the impact of the Spanish Flu epidemic in Philadelphia, in particular on an impoverished neighborhood wh
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing

As I write this review, I'm in awe. In awe of this novel, of Ms. Wiseman's writing, and of this story. First, however, let me back up.

It starts with a simple itch in the throat. Suddenly you get a cough. But it's not a regular cough, no. It starts in the bottom of your belly and tears through your chest. Suddenly your hacking. Struggling for air. The next thing you know, your skin is turning a bluish-purple. Then you are dead.

I'm referring to the deadly, catastrophic Spanish I
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
When I was first offered this book, the coronavirus was barely a blip on the news. I don’t think I ever imagined how Covid 19 would affect our lives months later and continue to do so. I will be honest. I was hesitant to pick this book up, thinking it would hit close to home, but then I remembered that I’ve read other books by Wiseman. They are all sensitively told, and I got started with it. I think the historical time period of 1918 Philadelphia distinguishes it from what we experiencing now; ...more
Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
3.5 stars

Have you read a book that you just weren't digging but couldn't put it down? Well, if you have, then you know what I am talking about here.

The story starts off in Sept 1918 after crowds of people gather at a parade in Philadelphia, spreading the Spanish flu, and people are dying. It's hard to believe so many years later, we are in a similar situation, with a pandemic and people are gathering in groups, and people are dying.

At first, I avoided this one due to the heartbreaking storyli
Ellen Wiseman
Jan 27, 2020 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I can’t wait for everyone to meet Pia Lange, a young immigrant living in the slums of Philadelphia who loses her mother during the deadly Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 and is left to take care of her twin baby brothers until her father returns from the war. When they run out of supplies, Pia must leave her brothers alone to search the quarantined city for food, with no idea they will be gone when she returns…
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hands down the best historical fiction book I've read this year! I have no idea how it is that I had not heard of this book or of Ellen Marie Wiseman until a friend sent me a copy of it. It is such a timely read for 2020 in so many ways, and for as bad as things appear in regard to the current pandemic and racial inequality, it pales in comparison to the Spanish flu of 1918, and the mind-blowing racial profiling of all immigrants referenced throughout this book. There are some eerie similarities ...more
Ellen Wiseman
Nov 07, 2019 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old German immigrant Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia’s overcrowded streets and slums, and from the anti-German sentiment that compelled her father to enlist in the U.S. Army, hoping to prove his loyalty. But an even more urgent threat has arrived. Spanish influenza is spreading through the city. Soon, dead and dying are everywhere. With no food at home, Pia must venture out in search of supplies, leaving her infant twin brothers alone . . .

Since her
RoseMary Achey
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
I love a good historical orphan tale, but this book was not one. Set during the pandemic of 1918 I had high hopes for this novel. My primary issue with the book is the really flat characters-so exaggerated (Cruel Nuns, Benevolent Doctor, Scheming woman with severe Xenophobia) and the unrealistic turn of events when the primary character is released from the orphanage.
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
It’s 1918, and the Spanish flu is running rampant. Family members are passing away right in front of their loved ones' eyes, food is scarce, and the living conditions in the tenement and slums are deplorable.

The flu took Pia’s mother, and then Pia is left with the care of her twin infant brothers since her father was fighting in the war. Pia was doing well until she needed to leave the house to find food. She didn't take her brothers because they would be too much to carry, but she wouldn’t be g
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thirteen year old Pia Lange and her family moved from rural Pennsylvania to Philadelphia. As German immigrants in 1918, prejudice is not uncommon. Pia's father is off fighting in WWI and Pia, her mother and infant twin brothers live in the tenaments, barely scraping by. When the city is hit with the Spanish Flu, people are dying by the thousands. When Pia's mother dies, Pia does her best to care for her brothers, but their food supply quickly dwindles. When Pia must go out in search of food, she ...more
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am such a fan of Ellen Marie Wiseman's writing that I will read her books without even checking the synopses anymore. I just know they'll be great. This time around, I didn't check the synopsis before adding The Orphan Collector to my TBR pile, only to pick it up around the same time as the Coronavirus was starting to make its way around the US. Talk about a timely read!

This is Ellen's best novel to date! While we're complaining about being stuck at home with our kids for the next couple of m
Karren  Sandercock
Thanks to Edelweiss, Ellen Marie Wiseman and Kensington Publishing for my copy of: The Orphan Collector.

Philadelphia 1918, Pia Lange attended the Liberty Loan Parade with her mother Amelia and she didn’t want to go as she hated big crowds and being too close to people. The family had no idea the Spanish influenza was about unleash its fury in Philadelphia, they called it the purple plague, and you could be perfectly fine in the morning and dead by nightfall. The flu was highly contagious with so
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
Got up to 30% and no can do with this one. When one of the main characters puts rat poisoning into the tea of a visiting nurse that did it for me. It was “deadful.”

I can say that I am going to do a bit of reserach into the Spanish flu so I gues I can say this book was not all bad. 🙄
Denise Mullins
Oct 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Although this historic fiction of an adolescent's survival in Philadelphia during the 1918 pandemic started with a captivating intensity teeming with notable facts, it quickly devolved into an implausibly maudlin melodrama.
Characters are all portrayed as either pure evil or impossibly beneficent do-gooders. And while Pia Lange's efforts to reunite with her briefly separated twin brothers is initially heartbreaking, the inclusion of evil orphanage nuns and a mentally unbalanced racist neighbor q
Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ellen Marie Wiseman sets this one down in the midst of the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic. It leans in a little close for comfort nowadays. The parallels make us sit up and take notice. Heaven help us, we don't necessarily have to go back in time to know, sometimes first-hand, the devastation personally and worldly, of the impact of such a thing.

The Orphan Collector is weaved with the threads of survival and stamina. As we enter into this storyline, we will be surrounded by individuals armed with not
Riveting Story for Current Times

Set in pandemic-stricken Philadelphia in 1918, The Orphan Collector is the story of Pia Lange, the daughter of German immigrants trying to Americanize themselves at a time when Germans were not welcome by many. Her father is off fighting the war in Europe, her mother doing her best to hold the small family together in the city. People are dying all over the city from the Spanish Flu and Pia’s mother does not escape that fate. With no family to turn to, thirteen-ye
Dec 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, to-recommend
I can't even begin to tell you how frightening this book was-it should probably be right up there with Stephen King's best! But don't let that description fool you; while this can be a heartbreaking look into the times -it also shows how caring people can be and has a happy ending -thank goodness!

This was one of the most powerful books that I have read lately. This book deals with the 1918 Spanish Flu in such a realistic manner that it had my stomach tied up in knots. The similarities to Covid 1
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One Child's Moving and Heartfelt Story During the Spanish Flu Epidemic

I have read several of Ellen Marie Wiseman's books over the years, so when I saw that she had written a new book I knew that I just had to own it and read it. Although it took an extraordinarily long time for this book to be delivered to my home, it was well worth the wait. Ellen Marie Wiseman's new book, The Orphan Collector, captured my attention from the very beginning. I could not put this book down.

The timing of this nov
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
First off, I won this as a goodreads giveaway. Thank you Kensington Books.

This story is a bit of a tear jerker so be prepared. Also, after reading this I’ll never look at Orphan Trains the same way again.

What was mostly interesting is that I was reading about a 20th Century Pandemic while being in the midst of a 21st Century Pandemic. An it’s ironic reading about history repeating itself while living it. It shows how far we haven’t come when a major public health crisis hits.
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 00-own-a-copy, arc
Set during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, 13 year old German immigrant Pia must care for her twin baby brothers after her mom dies mere hours after showing flu symptoms. Meanwhile, neighbor Bernice is overcome with grief and anger after the loss of her baby son, Wallis, and makes a couple of rash, disturbing decisions that forever alter the lives of herself, Pia, and countless others.

"When the flu first broke out, it was a horrible, terrifying time. It felt like the world was coming to an end."
The Orphan Collector is a timely story! The parallels to the 1918 pandemic and today's pandemic are eerie! I have read all of Ellen Marie Wiseman's books and I think this is the best yet. ...more
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Orphan Collector starts in the fall of 1918 in an overcrowded, impoverished neighborhood in Philadelphia heavily populated by poor immigrants. The Lange family is from Germany and they face extreme anti-German sentiment. To prove their loyalty to America, the father enlists in the Army. The deadly Spanish flu is starting to spread. Thirteen year old Pia Lange, her mother and twin baby brothers attend the large Liberty Loan Parade. Soon after, the rate of deaths escalate.

Pia is left to care
Susan Peterson
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ellen Marie Wiseman has written a sensational, emotionally intense novel, combining the best of humanity with the worst, amidst a world war and a pandemic of staggering proportions.Pia is 13 when influenza strikes Philadelphia, loving and bright, and with an uncanny ability to detect sickness by sheer touch. She is lonely and poor, but she is lit from within by sheer determination, bravery, and a resourcefulness beyond her years. Bernice is a grieving mother, driven to do the unspeakable, poison ...more
May 18, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With events happening 100 years ago so reminiscent to today's pandemic, this book is about the many orphans coming from that pandemic in Philadelphia in 1918.

Pia Lange is 13 years old, her father off fighting in WWI, her mother at home raising not only Pia, but also her twin baby brothers. When the Spanish Flu hits in 1918, not everyone is safe. When Pia's mother succumbs to the flu, it is up to her to provide for her brothers, any way she can. When Pia also gets the flu, her life changes foreve
Pam Jenoff
Jan 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is the story of Pia, a young immigrant trying to survive in Philadelphia during the 1918 Spanish flue. Pia is thrown into a horrific orphanage and must make her way home to the younger siblings who desperately need her. A timely and timeless tale of family and survival.

This book was beyond anything I ever imagined. I am so full of emotions as I have just finished reading it. It is July 2020 and I couldn’t help comparing and contrasting the 1918 epidemic with what we are experiencing now.

The characters were all written so perfectly, some I was absolutely in love with like protagonist Pia Lange or the Hudsons, others I just despised beyond words could ever explain (Nurse Wallis). It’s going to take a while to get over this novel.

I recommend to anyone
Ellen Wiseman
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Check out this free sample of THE ORPHAN COLLECTOR on Kindle!!
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Readers can always depend on Ellen Marie Wiseman to bring them a emotional, well researched novel with characters so well written that they aren't soon forgotten. Her newest book checks off all the boxes and her exquisite writing takes us to a time in history that will be new to many people.

The year is 1918 and the people of Philadelphia are all crowded together to see the Liberty Loan Parade, where overwhelming crowds of over 200,000 are gathered in Center City to cheer their WWI veterans, buy
I received this from for a review.

"In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia’s overcrowded streets and slums, Spanish influenza is spreading through the city. Soon, dead and dying are everywhere. With no food at home, Pia must venture out in search of supplies, leaving her infant twin brothers alone."

Put this one on your TBR, it's a must read. Showing the fears and mindsets of that era, this very readable story has interesting characters an
What a fantastic book! Could not put it down.... listened to the audio download from my local library...that I suggested they purchase after I won it in a giveaway. Almost 16 hrs, I read it in one day!
(Double speed)!
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A first-generation German American, Ellen Marie Wiseman discovered her love of reading and writing while attending first grade in one of the last one-room schoolhouses in NYS. She is a bestselling author whose novels have been translated into eighteen languages. Her debut novel, THE PLUM TREE, is loosely based on her mother’s stories about growing up in Germany during the chaos of WWII. THE PLUM T ...more

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