The Summer We Found the Baby

Written by Amy Hest
Review by Melissa Warren

A baby in a basket, a first lady, and three precocious children are the ingredients of Amy Hest’s novel seton Long Island during World War II. It is a comical yet poignant tale of three children coping with fear, grief, and loss as their community and their country struggle to do the same.

Two sisters, Julie and Martha Sweet, find a baby abandoned on the steps of the town library. Julie, at eleven, feels confident assuming responsibility for the baby; after all, she is little Martha’s caregiver. Their mother died during Martha’s birth. However, their neighbor Bruno has a different opinion. When he spots Julie with a baby in a basket, the twelve-year-old chases them down Belle Beach.

As Bruno races to catch the kidnappers, a multi-perspective story unfolds. Bruno shares his fear and longing for his older brother who is fighting overseas. The girls share their constant ache for their mother. Together they share memories of watching injured soldiers returning from war and the deep sorrow of the community as it mourns those who did not return.  Throughout the tale, Hest juxtaposes childish bickering with the heavy weight of grief and ultimately hope in the form Eleanor Roosevelt.  I highly recommend it for readers eight and up.