cover image The Swallows’ Flight

The Swallows’ Flight

Hilary McKay. S&S/McElderry, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-66590-091-1

Set in the transitional time between the two world wars, covering 1927–1947, this poignant novel follows four young people on the precipice of adulthood amid the challenges of looming conflict. In Berlin, animal-loving Erik and supportive Hans relish their affectionate friendship while anxiously observing Hitler’s rise and burgeoning anti-Jewish sentiment; shy Ruby, born with facial birthmarks, finds comfort in the routines of hanging around at her mother’s Plymouth newsagent’s shop while her antagonistic older brother Will is away in the army; fragile Kate, the youngest of six in Oxford, records everything in her diary and enjoys a long-distance friendship with Ruby; and an unloved London scrapyard dog searches for a kind home. Elevated by rich characterizations of a cued-white ensemble cast against an acutely observed historical setting, McKay’s (The Time of Green Magic) amiable and witty third-person narration offsets a story that touches on moments of darkness appropriate to the time period, including casual animal cruelty as well as several characters grappling with Kristallnacht and its implications. A thrilling final act authentically intertwines the narrative threads in this warm, gratifying follow-up to 2018’s The Skylarks’ War. Back matter features a historical note and family trees. Ages 8–12. Agent: Molly Ker Hawn, the Bent Agency. (Oct.)