cover image Molly Donnelly

Molly Donnelly

Jean Thesman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $16 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-395-64348-8

This raw and bittersweet novel, possibly Thesman's best work to date, starts off on the day that Pearl Harbor is bombed and concludes four years later, after the war has ended. Molly is 12 when war is declared, turning her world topsy-turvy: there are nightly blackouts and long lines to buy strictly rationed goods; strangers flood into Seattle to work in the newly opened factories; and--most painful of all for Molly--she must contend with her best friend's (a Japanese girl) deportation to an internment camp and the death of a beloved cousin. In addition, much of the household duties fall to Molly when her mother goes to work in a factory. Despite these rather grim changes, much love and laughter is afforded this heroine in the form of her optimistic and thoughtful Uncle Charlie--and though she is barely aware of it, the girl draws deeply from her own reserves of strength. Brimming with honesty, anger and piquancy, this is the sort of book that readers find themselves, paradoxically, racing through while wishing it would last forever. Once again, the author of Rachel Chance and When the Road Ends effortlessly evokes the tastes and textures of life in the Northwest. Period details are unobtrusive, yet anchor the tale firmly in its time frame. Ages 10-14. (Apr.)