All the Little Hopes

Written by Leah Weiss
Review by Bryan Dumas

Thirteen-year-old Allie Bert Tucker is sent by her father from her home in the Appalachians to live with her pregnant aunt Violet in Riverton in North Carolina’s tobacco country after Bert’s mother dies in child birth. There, Bert finds an aunt slowly going mad and a good-for-nothing uncle, Larry, who is never around; though that’s for the best. Lucy Brown, also 13, lives with her bibliophile family on a small tobacco farm where they also keep bees. Lucy’s older brother and brother-in-law are both fighting in the war—one somewhere in Europe and the other in the Pacific. After a crazy, rainy night where Violet throws Bert out, the Brown family brings Bert in as one of their own. Lucy is a fan of Nancy Drew mysteries and can’t let the disappearance of Larry go. However, their lives are turned around when German POWs are brought to Riverton. Two more disappearances bring Lucy and Bert to unusual sources for help.

Told in alternating chapters between Lucy and Bert, Weiss (If the Creek Don’t Rise) crafts a wonderful coming-of-age story and weaves in the oft-unknown history of German POWs in North Carolina and the need for beeswax by the U.S. Government. Bert and Lucy’s friendship, tested, mended, and tested again, rings true for young girls growing up in difficult times. An eclectic and fun secondary cast often help Lucy and Bert solve their little mysteries. The rural Southern community is wonderfully detailed, and Lucy and Bert make for captivating characters in this charming story of finding home.