Amid the chaos of the Spanish Civil War, a young girl begins to find her place in the world.
Twelve-year-old Anetxu “Ani” Largazabalaga spends her few free hours trying to recapture the idyllic times before her father left Guernica for the front. Her often-disagreeable mother sells sardines and never fails to remind Ani how much she has sacrificed to keep them from starvation. Ani finds her first real friend in 14-year-old Jewish Mathias García, who recently moved from Germany, where he and his mother were facing increasing restrictions. A simple trip to the movies embroils Ani and Mathias in a local network of spies helping the British get supplies through Franco’s blockade. While making house-to-house deliveries of sardines, the two deliver messages and hope that they are helping the war effort. After the infamous air raid lays the town to ruins, Ani and Mathias both face devastating losses and find refuge in a farm on the outskirts of Guernica. Gonzalez has the two characters handle the losses in vastly different but equally believable ways, and the inclusion of older, sympathetic characters to serve as a contrast to Ani’s mother will be appreciated by readers. Also notable are multiple characters with disabilities, including Mathias.
An engrossing tale set against a compelling, seldom-seen backdrop. (Historical fiction. 10-18)