Title: The Virgin Cure
Author: Ami McKay
Rating: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Summary: "I am Moth, a girl from the lowest part of Chrystie Street, born to a slum-house mystic and the man who broke her heart."
Set on the streets of Lower Manhattan in 1871, The Virgin Cure is the story of Moth, a girl abandoned by her father and raised by a mother telling fortunes to the city's desperate women. One summer night, twelve-year-old Moth is pulled from her bed and sold as a servant to a finely dressed woman. It is this betrayal suffered at the hands of her own mother that changes her life forever.
Knowing that her mother is so close while she is locked away in servitude, Moth bides her time until she can escape, only to find her old home deserted and her mother gone without a trace. Moth must struggle to survive alone in the murky world of the Bowery, a wild and lawless enclave filled with thieves, beggars, sideshow freaks, and prostitutes. She eventually meets Miss Everett, the proprietress of an "Infant School," a brothel that caters to gentlemen who pay dearly for "willing and clean" companions—desirable young virgins like Moth.
Moth also finds friendship with Dr. Sadie, a female physician struggling against the powerful forces of injustice, who teaches Moth to question and observe the world around her. The doctor hopes to protect Moth from falling prey to a terrible myth known as the "virgin cure"—the tragic belief that deflowering a "fresh maid" can cleanse the blood and heal men afflicted with syphilis—that has destroyed the lives of other Bowery girls.
Ignored by society, unprotected by the law, Moth dreams of independence. But there's a high price to pay for freedom, and no one knows that better than a girl from Chrystie Street.
Review: The Virgin Cure by Ami Mckay takes you into the world of Moth, a young adolescent girl living in the slums of New York around ten years or so after the Civil War. Her Mother a would be fortune teller with Gypsy blood who cares more about her favorite tonic which has powerful doses of alcohol and drugs in it, then taking care of Moth or herself is not someone that Moth has had what the reader would see as a wonderful childhood with so far. Moth's mother is selfish, bitter, and cannot see beyond her own desires, even to the depth of selling her own daughter to a woman that uses Moth, and abuses her because she has pain in her own life.
As you follow Moth's path from getting away from the abusive situation her mother sold her into, to a madame's house, to a curiosities museum, to the home of a young female doctor trying to show her a better way, and eventually to finding herself in an unforgiving and hard world and time, it is hard not to fall in love with her, and come to hate, cry or laugh with the other characters of this book, I would rate it as one of my FAVORITES of this year most definitely!