Queens, New York 2012. Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, Lily's afternoon visit to see her grandmother Collette at Rockaway Manor nursing home, turns into an extended stay at the National Guard Armory in Queens. Lily (12) is glad to be there to help her granny and the nurses. As they're settling in, Collette gives Lily a fountain pen to keep for her. Lily tucks it in her hoodie, but while out on a mission to find food, it fell out and she lost it. Even though it is "just a pen," she is devastated that she lost something so important to her grandmother.
Brume, France 1944. The Germans have seized Brume. Like the ground in winter, the hearts of the people are frozen, too. After 12-year-old Collette expresses her frustration to a neighbor, she is recruited as a messenger for Noah's Ark, a French Resistance group. Changing her appearance and wearing her dead brother's clothes, "Jean-Pierre" (aka Wallcreeper) delivers packages to other resistance members. One night, while on a particularly dangerous mission, she encounters Margueritte, a girl who seems to know about her mission. Collette is wary. No one is to be trusted - especially a girl who would walk right up to the Germans! A friendship is forged and the girls become partners in the movement.
Queens, NY 2012. In her desperate search to find her grandmother's fountain pen, Lily learns more about her grandmother. Things she never knew. Things her grandmother would never talk about. With her grandmother's memory going, would she ever be able to get answers to all of her questions?
Part history, part mystery, and all about family and friendship. A short summary can't do the book justice, as there are so many layers to the book. The stories (and there are several) are brilliantly told, slowly uncovered as the book "sits" in your memory and unfolds. The similar personality traits between Lily and Collette are somewhat expected, but readers may not initially see the parallels of Lily and Johnny's relationship and Collette and Margarite's friendship.
I also liked that the time periods were parallel for the reader, not presented as someone's flashback. It put the reader's knowledge about Collette ahead of Lily's, but in the end, enriches your joy at Lily learning about her grandmother's secret life. Highly, highly recommended.
Part mystery, part adventure, and all heart. Parallel stories in 1944 and 2012 illustrate the timelessness of friendship and doing the right thing.
None. Personally, I would have loved a bibliography of books about the French Resistance and Noah's Ark to continue my reading on the subject.
This is a historical novel featuring a young girl and her grandmother.
The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is the backdrop, but it is not as likely to inspire conversation or interest in reading more as the information about the French Resistance in World War II. The book can also inspire conversations about family history, which, as Lily points out in several places, can be lost when a family member's memory starts to go.
The other conversation-provoking themes in the story center around Lily's relationship with her mom. Lots of great discussions can be had about boundaries, understanding fears, and personal responsibility, among others.
10 and Up
9 and Up
Buy for your teen, then share with grandparents to start collecting family history.