Little Red Lies

Julie Johnston. Tundra, $19.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-77049-313-1
WWII may have ended, but 14-year-old Rachel McLaren still has plenty of things getting her down: the eczema that has her forever itching her arms; her small Canadian town; her older brother, Jamie, who has just returned from the war traumatized and demoralized; not getting the lead in the school play; and her overbearing mother and grandmother. While Rachel’s troubles draw sympathy, they pale next to Jamie’s: his best friend is missing in action, his love interest’s Catholicism makes them an impossible match in the eyes of his mother, and he’s haunted by war memories that Johnston (A Very Fine Line) explores in brutally honest letters that Jamie wrote overseas but never sent home (“The enemy, the ones still with faces, in death looked like children pretending to sleep”). Although this coming-of-age story includes perhaps a few too many tragic elements (leukemia and a predatory teacher also factor in), Johnston gives equal weight to struggles major and trivial as she sensitively examines the painful process of rebuilding one’s life under the most difficult of circumstances. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/12/2013
Release date: 09/10/2013
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-77049-314-8
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-77049-807-5
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