A vivid and compelling piece of historical fiction that also serves as a telling commentary on the effects an abusive parent has on his family. By the time the US enters WW II in December 1941, Mel Simmons is already in the armed forces, driven from home by his tyrannical father. Foster, 11, his little brother, Ricky, sister Evelyn, and mother are left behind to cope not only with Mr. Simmons, who grows meaner in Mel's absence, but with the austerity of life on the home front. Home life becomes even more difficult when his best friend, Jimmy, a Japanese-American, is relocated to an internment camp, and when the family learns that Mel has been killed in action. Foster's heartbroken mother, suffering herself and witnessing the devastation of her family, takes steps to bring them back from the brink by divulging a long-kept secret about Mr. Simmons and showing them a family album of times when they were younger. By story's end, all of them have taken the first tentative steps toward reconciliation, a moving and believable conclusion to a story of a family in conflict.