When Amy's brother Robbie goes for his camp check-up, the doctor starts tests that lead to a diagnosis of leukemia. The summer of 1948 should have been perfect: narrator Amy wears toe shoes and carries a baton at the closing exercises in fifth grade, leaving mean Miss Finnegan's class with relief and panache. But the summer takes a disastrous turn when Robbie is hospitalized and their mother moves into Boston to be with him, asking Amy to suffer with awful Mrs. Van. Worse, a much-disliked classmate says that Robbie is going to die. Angrily, Amy denies the possibility, even when her best friend also tells her that Robbie won't be coming home. Only when Robbie himself asks her to bring puppy Sam for a secret visit does she admit the truth. A moving, often amusing, disarmingly honest story. Only a few details recall the 40's, but the prologue establishes a tone of remembrance that eases the reader into a difficult time now past.