Ellie doesn’t want her brother Jimmy to go to war. He’s her favourite person in the whole world. Smug Victoria Gandeck is proud to have her four brothers in the Marines, but Ellie would rather have Jimmy at home. When the time comes for him to leave she is left to hope and pray for his safe return with only his letters to raise her spirits.
At first I wasn’t sure if I would like this novel as it is written in quite a jokey style with a lot of American slang, and I didn’t take to the main character. The more I read, however, the more engrossing and emotionally involving it became, and I warmed to Ellie as she struggled to cope with both the war and being a teenager. The book deals with quite complex emotions and doesn’t shy away from them. As the novel is set in America, the experience of the Second World War is quite different to novels set in Britain – there are no evacuees or bombing raids. Flags hang in the windows of homes displaying a blue star if they have a family member in the military. If the person dies, then the star is changed from blue to gold. Ellie hates the stars because they are a constant reminder of the danger Jimmy is in.
The novel charts the history of the war through Ellie’s eyes as she gets older and her relationships change with friends, enemies and family members as they experience excitement, pride, loss, shame and fear together. It is an engaging novel that would appeal to girls of 10+.