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Stormi's Review: The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman


PUBLISHER: Kensington Books

RELEASED: August 4, 2020

GENRE: Historical Fiction, Coming of Age

LENGTH: 413 pages

FORMAT: eBook, Audio, Paperback







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 baby died days ago, Bernice Groves has been lost in grief and bitterness. If doctors hadn’t been so busy tending to hordes of immigrants, perhaps they could have saved her son. When Bernice sees Pia leaving her tenement across the way, she is buoyed by a shocking, life-altering decision that leads her on a sinister mission: to transform the city’s orphans and immigrant children into what she feels are “true Americans.” As Pia navigates the city’s somber neighborhoods, she cannot know that her brothers won’t be home when she returns. And it will be a long and arduous journey to learn what happened—even as Bernice plots to keep the truth hidden at any cost. Only with persistence, and the courage to face her own shame and fear, will Pia put the pieces together and find the strength to risk everything to see justice at last.


When the Spanish Influenza hit Philadelphia in 1918, no one could imagine the devastation it would leave behind in such a short time. From a wartime parade to streets filled with dead, the Flu came and took whoever it pleased. In this story, we meet Pia, a young girl of 13, living alone with her mother and twin brothers while her father is off at war. We also meet Bernice, a young American woman who finds herself in an impossible situation that leads to drastic decisions. Both of these ladies fight their own battles while their stories intertwine in a crazy twist of fate.

Sometimes as a reader, you come across a book that completely blows your mind. This book was one of those to me. As I read the story, I found myself having to lay it down often to wrap my head around what I was reading. I do not mean this in the wrong way. I have heard of the Spanish Flu, but after reading this, I feel like I know so much more. What these people, Pia, especially, go through, is just wow. I can't even imagine. I found it hard to review because what can be said? Now I know this is fiction, but I also know it's seeded in truth. Just look at the history books.

Now, the characters in this book are just amazing. Pia is so young and is thrust into this world, and her story had me crying...ALOT! Bernice, on the other hand, I like AT FIRST. When her story unfolded, I was in shock.

This book is not the first I have read by this author, and it most certainly will not be the last. This is a story of loss, love, survival, perseverance, and hope. It gave me all the emotions. It made me mad, sad, happy, and hopeful. It also gave me a better picture of a dark time in our history. While I write this review, this country is now suffering its pandemic with the Corona Virus. Reading this made me a little less worried about the current world problems.

Overall, this is a fantastic book. It was written excellently. I would advise you to read with a box of tissues.

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