In the spirit of The Orphan Train and Before We Were Yours, a historical debut about a nurse who chooses to save a baby's life, and risks her own in the process, exploring the ties of motherhood and the little-known history of Coney Island and America's first incubators.
A nurse's choice. A daughter's search for answers.
New York City, 1926. Nurse Althea Anderson's heart is near breaking when she witnesses another premature baby die at Bellevue Hospital. So when she reads an article detailing the amazing survival rates of babies treated in incubators in an exhibit at Luna Park, Coney Island, it feels like the miracle she has been searching for. But the doctors at Bellevue dismiss Althea and this unconventional medicine, forcing her to make a choice between a baby's life and the doctors' wishes that will change everything.
Twenty-five years later, Stella Wright is falling apart. Her mother has just passed, she quit a job she loves, and her marriage is struggling. Then she discovers a letter that brings into question everything she knew about her mother, and everything she knows about herself.
The Light of Luna Park is a tale of courage and an ode to the sacrificial love of mothers.
Armstrong's impressive debut chronicles the parallel stories of two strong women who are unafraid to risk their careers to do what's right. In 1926, Althea Anderson, a nurse at Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital, is devastated to learn the physician she assists in the obstetrics ward won't treat underweight infants. After watching a preemie die, Althea speaks up the next time she's attending a premature birth, advising the parents that their daughter, Margaret, might live if she were transferred to Coney Island, where Dr. Martin Couney is reported to have saved thousands of infants through the use of incubators. Couney charges nothing, but he puts the children on public display. The baby's father, however, prefers to follow "God's plan," rather than have Margaret exhibited next to burlesque dancers and fire breathers. Althea lets Margaret's parents believe their child has died and secretly takes her to Couney. Althea's story alternates with sections set in 1950, as 24-year-old Poughkeepsie teacher Stella Wright struggles to deal with the recent death of her mother and the impossible conditions of her job. Stella, too, speaks out for the neglected and voiceless, even as she learns a surprising secret about her family. Though the reveal is telegraphed early on, Armstrong still manages to make it emotionally powerful. Readers will be touched by this story of courage and love.
So interesting, both as a novel and a history lesson! Completely worth reading, with engaging characters and a plot that holds the attention of the reader. Highly recommend!
A heartfelt read
Addison Armstrong writes a powerful and heartfelt debut novel that explores the themes of motherhood, love, loss and self discovery. This is a dual timeline book that goes back and forth between Althea Anderson in 1926, an OB nurse, struggling in her job with what she is told to do versus what she believes is the morally right thing to do and Stella Wright in 1950’s who is struggling with her marriage and job as a Special Ed teacher due to grieving her mother’s death. Two women working in different eras, but still went through their own hardships that had parallels of making morally right decisions despite being pressured to go against what is requested and expected by their bosses. When Stella is at her lowest point in grieving, she decides to quit her job and clean out her mother’s apartment. When she stumbles upon letters, she takes it upon herself to investigate. Will she find out hidden truths behind the letters? This heartfelt book will have you turning the pages to find out their fates and how these ladies are connected. Such an wonderful story that is full of the unexpected. Be sure to add this to your TBR list. A great book club pick!
The storyline is so obvious it’s ridiculous.