Where do I even begin with this review of Ami McKay’s latest novel, The Virgin Cure? I had eyed this book many times both in book stores and online, but finally got hold of it by winning a Twitter contest by Random House of Canada. Excited to finally have a book by Ami McKay, a wonderful Canadian author, I realized that I had no clue what the novel was even about. I was initially drawn in by the odd name and the beautiful cover. I did not expect the novel to be what it was about and I really didn’t think that I would enjoy the subject matter so much!
The Virgin Cure is about a young girl named Moth who is growing up in the slums of New York in the 1800′s. When Moth is 12 years old, her mother sells her to be a servent for a wealthy woman. From that point on, Moth’s life is nothing like she dreamed it would be — as she goes from being a slave to being one of the young girls men seek out while looking for the “virgin cure.”
The whole time I was reading this novel, I couldn’t believe how the young girls were treated. In fact, the very notion that one could sell their child in order to make a pretty penny seemed unthinkable to me, but I had to get over myself and realize that things like this did happen in the past (and probably still happen in some parts of the world, though I claim ignorance to that. In fact, it seems that there are many parts of the world where children are forced to do things that are well beyond their years and I can only be thankful that I was not raised in those kinds of places.).
Throughout the novel, the reader witnesses Moth’s youth and naïveté – a young girl who is still so innocent, but wise beyond her years, just looking to be loved. I adored Moth’s character and felt for her every time she felt up, and felt her sorrow every time she was down. She was willing to work for what she wanted, even if that included doing things that seemed far beyond her character. I also really enjoyed Dr. Sadie’s character and how she wanted to save the young girls forced into such wrongness.
McKay is a wonderful writer. Not only is her writing beautiful and accessible, but she peppered tidbits of information about the time period throughout the novel. Not only did I get the satisfaction of reading such a unique novel, but I also learned something as I read. My only problem with these tidbits of information, however, was that I didn’t know when to read them. McKay places them in the story as sidebars, but there was no indication as to when the reader’s eyes should leave the paragraph and read the sidebar.
If you’re looking for a wonderful, unique read by a great Canadian author, give The Virgin Cure a read. It’s a fast-paced, heartfelt, yet serious and sad read, and I can’t help but recommend it.