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Amy Sorrells is my guest this week, and she chats with us about her fascinating new book, Miracle at the Sideshow. This novel includes the history of baby incubators and how the world came to know about them and accept them because, in part, of their display at the sideshow at Coney Island. Truly a wonderful read.
Miracle at the Sideshow by Amy Sorrells
A deadly fire. A sensational sideshow. And a baby fighting for its life.
Eighteen-year-old Sophie Rosenfeld dreams of a resplendent life in America after escaping the pogroms in Eastern Europe, only to lose her family in the horrific Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Besides Sophie, the lone survivor is her niece, Mercy, a premature baby the city hospital calls a “weakling” and refuses to save. When it is rumored Mercy’s only hope lies in the dark and dangerous Coney Island freak shows, free-spirited but despairing Sophie takes the chance. Will life in the spotlights lead her to the life and love she’s always imagined, or will another devastating fire force her to return to the ashes of tenement life forever?
New York City at the turn of the twentieth century is as captivating as it is macabre and as magnificent as it is barbaric, as young Sophie Rosenfeld is about to learn. She yearns for life beyond the dreary tenements, but losing all her family except for her fragile niece, Mercy, in the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire has left her with little opportunity. Sophie has to save Mercy’s life, but to do so she must follow a mysterious man to the only place in the world that saves premature babies: Dr. Martin Couney and his Coney Island side show.
Even as society threatens to shut down Dr. Couney’s life-saving work for premature babies, Sophie joins him in fighting for their lives. Amidst the glittering menagerie of lights, astonishing sights, and her new friends, including the handsome acrobat Nicholas, Sophie begins to find hope.
From the lavish, dangerous shores of Coney Island, to the harsh but at times tender tenement life, Sophie’s heart is split wide open by a roller coaster of unrelenting tragedies, and she finds herself doubting the faith that has always buoyed her. Will Nicholas and her new friends be just the salve Sophie needs to help assuage her grief? Or will she be forced to return to a life that stifled her?
Against a backdrop of romance and unexpected escapades, Miracle at the Sideshow brings to life two back-to-back true stories of fire and injustice that shocked the nation into improving worker safety, and which led to techniques still used in neonatal intensive care units today to save the lives of premature babies.
Get your copy of Miracle at the Sideshow.
Amy is an award-winning author of stories highly acclaimed by the likes of USA Today, Library Journal, and a five star review by Publisher’s Weekly. Her stories are full of hope and set in America’s heartland. She lives in central Indiana with her husband.