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THE SWALLOWS' FLIGHT by Hilary McKay Kirkus Star


by Hilary McKay

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-66590-091-1
Publisher: McElderry

This follow-up to 2018’s Love to Everyone reunites readers with cherished characters, and the circle of beloved friends and family grows.

Spanning 1927 to 1947, this novel follows a well-drawn ensemble cast through the interwar years and the turbulence of World War II before leaving them battered but resolute. The Great War casts a shadow over young people’s lives—a father or uncle lost or seriously wounded; a mother or aunt haunted by memories of nursing the soldiers. Best friends Erik and Hans live in Berlin, dreaming of working at the zoo tending to animals (Erik) and running a pastry stall (Hans). They are disturbed by Hitler but, facing forces beyond their control, eventually become Luftwaffe pilots. In Plymouth, Violet’s daughter, Ruby, is self-conscious about prominent birthmarks on her face that draw unwelcome attention. Kate, daughter of Peter and Vanessa, is the youngest of the Penrose brood in Oxford. Her health is delicate, and she fades into the background, honing her observational skills. Clarry is godmother to Ruby and Kate, and Rupert comes and goes, dispensing treats—the benevolent English counterpart to Hans’ glamorous Uncle Karl. These four young people and their families—plus one abandoned scrapyard dog—find their orbits intersecting due to the vagaries of war on the way to a poignant and utterly satisfying conclusion. Third-person chapters filled (but never to the point of distraction) with historical texture rotate among the charming characters’ distinct voices and perspectives. Characters read as White.

Stirring and unforgettable.

(family trees) (Historical fiction. 9-14)