A Thunderous Whisper
Anextu – or Ani, to her friends – is twelve years old when she recounts the events in her town of Guernica during the momentous year of 1937. It is the time of the Spanish Civil War, and Ani’s father is away fighting Franco. She lives with her mother, a sardine vendor, and suffers the jibes of schoolmates who call her the “sardine girl.” Her life is small and insignificant – only a whisper in time, as her mother repeatedly tells her.
Ani’s life grows larger and more exciting when she meets 14-year-old Mathias Garcia. Mathias’s father is part of a spy ring, and the two are drawn into the network’s communication scheme. Ani begins to believe that she can, after all, make a difference in life. But all is upended on Monday, April 26th, market day in Guernica, when Germany’s Luftwaffe bombs the small city for over three hours, even gunning down escaping townspeople. It is in the aftermath of the bombing that Ani’s whisper of a life begins to rise to thunder.
This is a first and foremost a good story. It blends history and fiction smoothly and is sure to strike chords of empathy in young teens. The author confronts the realities of war head-on, which could be difficult for youthful readers more accustomed to fantasy or romance. But this is what the book is about, and I would not change a word of it.