Ellen Marie Wiseman’s skill is to transport you into a dark moment of history and then introduce you to courageous characters who guide you through tragedy–and often brutality–with humanity, compassion, and hope.
Thirteen-year-old Pia Lange, the heroine of THE ORPHAN COLLECTOR, might be the bravest character of them all. Even when she has lost everything, and is struggling against self-recrimination and hardship, she never sees herself as a victim. She is a true survivor.
When we meet Pia, she has already learned to conceal her difference, both as an immigrant and as someone with an unwanted, clairvoyant gift that means she avoids touching people.
Pia and her mother are trying to raise Pia’s baby twin brothers in the slums of Philadelphia while her father is away fighting the war (to prove his patriotism as a German immigrant). But it’s September 1918, and when the Spanish flu ravages the city and takes her mother, Pia is forced to shelter-in-place and care for her brothers alone. After supplies run out, she makes the life-altering decision to venture beyond their tiny apartment in search of food, but leaves the babies behind–somewhere safe.
Unbeknown to Pia, her bitter and bigoted neighbor, Beatrice, who is mourning the death of her family and blames Pia’s father for taking her husband’s job, watches Pia leave. What kind of mother would let her child go out alone? Where are the babies? As Beatrice investigates, she makes her own life-altering decision: to collect immigrant orphans and children and turn them into true Americans. She starts with Pia’s brothers.
The two storylines cross and collide as Pia refuses to give up the search for her brothers, despite the abuse she faces in an orphanage, and Beatrice goes to extraordinary lengths to protect her own secrets. Especially from Pia. Tension builds to a heart-thumping, emotional climax that leaves you with an unforgettable story.