Exceptional characterizations and a robust story line turn this WWII homefront novel into far more than a period piece. Spending the summer of '44 at her family's vacation home on the Atlantic, Lily feels angry and deserted when her widower father joins the Army and is sent to Europe just after the Allied invasion. Her ever-critical Gram seems to be breathing down her neck at every turn, and Lily has gotten off on the wrong foot with Albert, the Hungarian refugee boy staying with neighbors. She just can't seem to break out of her self-described role as ""a last-row, last-seat kid in school with terrible marks... [who] told lies every other minute."" Giff keeps the spotlight off Lily's flaws, refraining as well from overtly linking them to her self-consciousness at being motherless. Rather, she uses them to generate the plot: as Lily and Albert work their way into friendship, Lily tells a lie with unexpected and potentially dangerous consequences. Lily learns her lesson in a resolution that feels psychologically true. In the background, characters cope with wartime shortages, stumble into tragedy as sons and brothers fall in battle-in short, lead complicated lives with the hope of redemption. Closely observed, quickly paced and warmly told, this has all the ingredients that best reward readers. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/10/1997 Release date: 02/01/1997 Genre: Children's
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