At seventeen, June Hardie is everything a young woman in 1951 shouldn’t be—independent, rebellious, a dreamer. June longs to travel, to attend college and to write the dark science fiction stories that consume her waking hours. But her parents only care about making June a better young woman. Her mother grooms her to be a perfect little homemaker while her father pushes her to marry his business partner’s domineering son. When June resists, her whole world is shattered—suburbia isn’t the only prison for different women…
June’s parents commit her to Burrow Place Asylum, aka the Institution. With its sickening conditions, terrifying staff and brutal “medical treatments,” the Institution preys on June’s darkest secrets and deepest fears. And she’s not alone. The Institution terrorizes June’s fragile roommate, Eleanor, and the other women locked away within its crumbling walls. Those who dare speak up disappear…or worse. Trapped between a gruesome reality and increasingly sinister hallucinations, June isn’t sure where her nightmares end and real life begins. But she does know one thing: in order to survive, she must destroy the Institution before it finally claims them all.
Emily’s LOHF Review
Nightingale was my first Amy Lukavics book, and I am happy to say that I loved it! This book is about June, who graduates from high school & wants to grow up to be something besides her mother. I found June to be a relatable character – she loves things she isn’t “supposed to” love (like sci-fi and writing), and she feels alone in her family because she doesn’t match their standard of the ideal girl. It’s a lonely story, and I think many women will be able to relate to June. This book is grim, but it’s not entirely devoid of hope.
I don’t think this book is going to be for everyone. It’s sort of like a speculative fiction version of The Bell Jar or Girl, Interrupted. These are books that both had a big impact on my life when I was younger, so I thoroughly enjoyed Nightingale. The storyline is pretty vague at times since you can’t always tell what’s real and what’s not, so just know that going in if you decide to pick this one up.
This book does have a romantic aspect, which often bores me, but I really like how Amy Lukavics handled it in this book. I was rooting for them – it’s fun to actually like the characters enough to care. It was a good story.
Nightingale has a few good creepy scenes, like the opening one, but overall, I think the horror is in the creeping sense of dread and lack of control that June has over her own life. There’s some good gore toward the end, and I had fun reading this one. It is a YA book, but I think it has more mature tones than most. I enjoyed this story, and I can’t wait to read more from Amy Lukavics.
About Amy Lukavics
Ever since she was little, Amy was especially intrigued by horror books and movies. Raised in Northern Arizona, she sustained herself on a steady diet of Goosebumps, Fear Street, and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books before discovering Stephen King in her mother’s bookshelf.
When Amy isn’t reading or writing, she enjoys playing roller derby, cooking, crafting, and playing games across many platforms.
Her novel THE RAVENOUS was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award in the Superior Achievement in a YA Novel category, and DAUGHTERS UNTO DEVILS was a YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers 2017.