The View From a Kite by Maureen Hull

Posted by on Feb 12, 2014 in Book Reviews, Nova Scotia | 0 comments

Summary: Living in a sanatorium in the 1970s to treat her tuberculosis, Gwen is supposed to spend her days resting and taking medications. But tuberculosis in the 1970s is not the same dire, fatal, wasting disease that it was for writers and composers of the past, and Gwen finds herself getting into mischief with the friends she has made despite the rules her doctors have set out for her. Driven by personal tragedy in her family, Gwen is determined to unlock the secret of curing her disease, seeking control over another uncontrollable situation in her life.

Number of Pages: 338

Age Range: 15-17

Review: Maureen Hull had some thoughtful insights about being sick and having to stay in a hospital for a prolonged period of time that she shares in The View From a Kite. I especially liked the one about how sanatoriums can’t be too fancy because then patients would be ill-suited to return to their normal lives. As Gwen says, that explains a lot about how hospitals are set up. I included it in the Memorable Quotes section.

I liked Gwen as a character, although I didn’t always understand where her emotions and decisions were coming from. Reading about hospital life in the 1970s was enlightening for me because of my life-long experience with hospitals. The book has some fun, humourous moments, and I enjoyed the over-arching imagery of the kites and the role they played in Gwen’s life. But overall, reading this book takes some dedication.

I would recommend this book mostly as a historical piece, because it contains a great deal of information about the treatment of tuberculosis and its history.

Memorable Quotes:

“No wonder men go home on passes and stay drunk for three days. No wonder girls go home and stay out all night and get themselves knocked up – whatever it takes to pretend you are a normal person with a normal life. We’re all just holding our breath until we can get out for good, not wanting one detail outside to change, so we won’t have missed anything.” – Gwen from The View From a Kite by Maureen Hull, page 19

“Sooner or later, no matter what happens to you, if you don’t kill yourself, you’re going to lift your head, look around, and realize you’re hungry.” – Gwen from The View From a Kite by Maureen Hull, page 30

“”The institution must send back its patients into the world without having unsettled their minds and made them discontented with the life to which they belong. If we place patients from poor homes among surroundings which, to them, are luxurious we are bound to unfit them for the life to which they must return. Simplicity and economy in sanatorium construction and furnishing will avoid ruining the citizen while curing the individual.’ Well,’ I say, ‘that explains a lot.'” – Gwen from The View From a Kite by Maureen Hull, page 222

“In case her suspicions are true we drink copiously and I, for one, feel giddy enough. Maybe it’s just the occasion. It reminds us that there is a world and a life beyond the sanatorium grounds, that someday in the not-too-distant future it will be ours again. Most people don’t think much about their health until it starts to go. They don’t realize how good life is, and what freedom they have, as long as their body is kicking along.” – Gwen from The View From a Kite by Maureen Hull, page 323

The View From a Kite by Maureen Hull is published by Vagrant Press (2006).
(Buy this book: Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Booksellers)

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