A fast-paced, sensitively written first novel about the psychological damage war wreaks, seen through the eyes of an intelligent, resilient young girl. During WW II, as Japanese forces invade her native city of Ubec in the Philippines, nine-year-old Yvonne Macaraig escapes with her father and mother into the mountains, where they stay in villages whose inhabitants are fighting the Japanese. Yvonne's father, an engineer, joins a guerrilla regiment. In wartime, Yvonne learns, people change. Her mother bears a stillborn baby in the jungle while Japanese soldiers lurk nearby, prevents an enemy soldier from stealing their chickens, then asks Yvonne's father to kill the prisoner of war he takes. Her father refuses, but confesses after he shoots the man for trying to escape that he enjoyed killing him, as revenge for the dead baby. When Yvonne's father disappears on a mission, the girl develops the ""practicality"" war requires. ""I wondered what we would do if Papa were really dead. Would the guerrilleros cast us aside...?"" She refuses to give up hope and ""learns how to will [her] father to live...centering [her] energy on keeping Papa alive."" The author, herself born in the Philippines, skillfully interweaves realistic events with myths of women fighters and goddesses, as well as fantastic dreams. She relates dramatic events in an understated way, such as the family's ride up into the mountains on horseback with a spare horse carrying dynamite, and she enhances our understanding of Yvonne's pre-war world through the use of ironic details: In the Ubec cinema ""the roof leaked....From the loge, one could see the movie reflected upside down on the wet floor."" Brainard's appealing characters are larger-than-life people who change before our eyes, yet remain utterly convincing.