It is 1915 and the First World War has only just begun.
17 year old Sasha is a well-to-do, sheltered-English girl. Just as her brother Thomas longs to be a doctor, she wants to nurse, yet girls of her class don't do that kind of work. But as the war begins and the hospitals fill with young soldiers, she gets a chance to help. But working in the hospital confirms what Sasha has suspected--she can see when someone is going to die. Her premonitions show her the brutal horrors on the battlefields of the Somme, and the faces of the soldiers who will die. And one of them is her brother Thomas.
Pretending to be a real nurse, Sasha goes behind the front lines searching for Thomas, risking her own life as she races to find him, and somehow prevent his death.
I was a perfectly normal child. Honestly. But somehow I slunk into my teenage years dressed in black and sprouting strange hairstyles, listening to pretentious but potent dark music. In short, I became a Goth. I know it’s not clever now.
How this change came about I am not sure, though it may have something to do with the fact that my first memory is being wheeled in my pram by a nanny through the 12th-century churchyard in the village where I was born. Thinking back to my early years, my life was almost unbelievably idyllic. I was born in the house where I spent the first 18 years of my life, a house designed and built by my parents on the edge this small village in the Kent countryside. Those years seem entirely composed of long summers of adventuring in the woods and the orchards, in the valley and down by the river, as my brother and I tried to live like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. But there was a blot on the horizon that rolled around every autumn–school. I never liked school, never felt comfortable, was painfully shy there, and found all 14 years of it hard work.
I wrote a bit back then; I won a short horror story competition in a fanzine. It was about a nurse being buried alive. Charming. But I didn’t really give writing a serious try until I had something to write about, something that I found exciting enough to spend months doing. That’s the biggest obstacle to all writers, new and established–you have to have something you want to say.
I love writing, but getting ready to write a book is even better. This is the point when you have a world of possibilities before you–all the ideas that you could shake up together and make into a story–and it’s an exciting feeling. So now I spend my free time reading about all sorts of things that I might be vaguely interested in, and wait . . . for ideas to appear that refuse to be ignored. And then another book could be on the way.
Now I have “recovered” from my years in black, and have changed my wardrobe drastically, preferring brown these days. But it still makes me smile when I see some kid all in black, because I know they’re on the right road.
Five Facts About Me (Four of Which Are True)
I used to play bass guitar in an Abba tribute band.
I speak Polish fluently.
I once nearly drowned in an ornamental Victorian fishpond.
I play the drums in an Austin Powers tribute band.
I used to be a stone carver.
“Sedgwick’s powerful and haunting WWI story probes ideas of death and healing, fate and free will. . . . Readers will be immediately drawn in.”–Publishers Weekly, Starred
“In Sasha’s compelling, urgent narrative, Sedgwick skillfully connects young peoples’ struggles for power and self-determination with the deepest questions about fate, free will, and the meaning of patriotism.”–Booklist, Starred