A teenager with three brothers fighting overseas in World War II concocts an elaborate coping mechanism that works to keep his anxieties down and his spirits up—until it doesn’t.
A small meteorite takes on talismanic properties for Robert when he suddenly begins to spot mysterious parallels between the exploits of his three favorite comic-book heroes and incidents reported in the letters he receives from his big brothers, who are off in Europe with the Canadian armed forces. Determined efforts to raise enough money to buy each new issue of each comic put him head to head with hard-bitten classmate Charlene. Their bitter rivalry slowly transforms into friendship and then something closer as they come to understand what is in many of the messages they are delivering to the people in town. Then one such telegram comes to Robert’s parents, and his certainties of the links between fiction and fact are shattered. Guest gives her tale a distinctly Canadian flavor with references to locally produced comics (the better known ones from the U.S. were not imported during the war) and by casting Robert and his family as Métis, a persecuted minority. But her young characters’ emotional challenges are not confined to a particular country or war.
Built around a timely (ever timely, unfortunately) theme, this wartime tale featuring young characters with complementary strengths and vulnerabilities shines in a sharply rendered setting. (historical notes) (Historical fiction. 11-14)