Newbery Honor author Giff does a superb job in this absorbing novel for middle-grade readers. It’s 1944 in Rockaway, New York, and Meggie Dillon learns that her father has accepted a position at a B-24 bomber factory in Willow Run, Michigan. She and her parents will be moving there for the duration of the war. Meggie’s big brother, Eddie, is stationed overseas in the army. Meggie will have to leave behind her German-born grandfather, a decorated WWI US Army veteran. He and Meggie spend lots of time together, fishing and gardening. Meggie, fearing anti-German sentiment, believes he will be safer in Rockaway and wants someone to be there in case Eddie returns from the war. Meggie loves her grandfather, but is also embarrassed by his German accent and old-fashioned ways.
Giff perfectly captures the ambivalent feelings children often have for a grandparent. As Meggie settles into life in Willow Run and makes friends, she realizes how much she misses her grandfather and his garden. From her new friends and her correspondence with her grandfather, she learns many life lessons, including how to have hope, be brave, and seize the day, even when faced with an uncertain future. Highly recommended.