Due Preparations for the Plague
Janette Turner Hospital
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Buy *Due Preparations for the Plague: A Novel* online

Due Preparations for the Plague: A Novel
Janette Turner Hospital
416 pages
October 2004
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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The psychological tensions and complex implications of the plot drive this powerful novel. The actual storyline is quite simple: a number of young children on a hijacked Air France flight are released, while their parents meet an horrific end at the hands of extremists. Over the years, the surviving children communicate and create a web site on which they request information concerning the infamous Air France incident, much of which is classified. The implication of underlying government machinations is staggering and certainly within the realm of possibility, as the CIA has cooperated with unsavory alliances in order to further "the national interest."

Of the surviving children, Samantha, Jacob and Cassie have forged the closest bonds. None of them have been able to live normal lives after such devastating early trauma. An additional layer of complexity is provided by Lowell, the son of a high echelon CIA operative who was a top agent in the hijack incident code-named Operation Black Death. Assuming responsibility for his father's emotional distance, Lowell has been an ineffectual husband and father. When Lowell receives a package from his recently deceased father, the contents change his perspective and raise serious questions of personal responsibility.

Samantha has relentlessly pursued Lowell via telephone, desperate for any clues he might have about her parents who perished on the Air France flight along with his mother. When Lowell finally contacts Samantha, he is in a panic, convinced he is being pursued for the inflammatory material now in his possession. Circumstances change quickly, and they are unsure whether they are being paranoid about the possible surveillance. In a secret meeting (they hope), Samantha and Lowell must make a difficult decision on how to balance the use of the explosive information and their desire for survival, faced with a serious dilemma: determining who is friend and who is foe.

Due Preparations for the Plague is a bold examination of a terrorist incident and the subsequent political obfuscation and unacknowledged interference by a government engaged in a different kind of war, one that involves consorting with the enemy. Some collateral damage is tolerated, even expected, in an effort to contain the extent of such damage in the national interest. Too often tainted by association, small surrenders deplete the intended good, until there is little distinction, only the lesser of two evils.

Hospital offers redemption to her burdened young characters, not content for evil to triumph over the best intentions of humanity. Samantha, Lowell and the reader are allowed an intimate glimpse into the heart of the tragedy, from the perspective of the perpetrators and their victims, who discover, in each moment of existence, an intense appreciation for life and the transcendence of love.

"To state quite simply what we learn in a time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise". (Albert Camus, THE PLAGUE).

© 2003 by Luan Gaines for Curled Up With a Good Book

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