Your Eyes In Stars
Young Jessie and Elisa are firm yet unlikely friends living in upstate New York in 1934. Jessie, the daughter of the region’s prison warden, chatty, tomboyish, the collector of wanted posters of famous criminals and tall-tales is the extreme opposite of her German friend Elisa, who emits elegance and assurance with her foreign culture and many languages. They both swoon over Slater Carr, the prison’s new inmate who can play the bugle and trumpet like no other and becomes Jessie’s father’s special undertaking and whose actions are the catalyst on which the story is woven in a very intriguing way.
What is especially compelling is the way Kerr uses her secondary characters (Seth, Jessie’s brother, testing his relationship with their father, her mother’s coolness, a friend’s pacifism), and the way she fully observes and senses what Jessie and Elisa are thinking and misunderstanding as young adolescents – including the common and uncommon events that occur in their lives. In every respect she merges thoughts and actions to a satisfactory conclusion.
My only gripe was with the ending, which was abrupt and harried, a troubling departure from the effective tone and pace of the entire book. Its explanations about the Holocaust were weak, ineffective and shallow and could have been delivered with more clout from this award-winning author. Young adult.