By Tina Jordan
Updated December 13, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

During World War I, young women thought to have sexually transmitted diseases were seen as a threat to the war effort and forced into quarantine. In Charity Girl, Michael Lowenthal’s flawed historical novel, 17-year-old Frieda Mintz has just landed a job at a Boston department store. After the ”Committee on Prevention of Social Evils Surrounding Military Camps” accuses her of infecting a soldier, she’s sent to a medical detainment camp. But the story never compels. It’s not that the events are far-fetched — in today’s political climate, they’re all to easy to believe — it’s that the characters, Frieda included, are so wooden.

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