In this fresh take on a familiar paradigm, a sensitive teen inherits a well-kept family secret touching on Sweden’s role in World War II that’s profoundly affected her family.
It’s been five years since their mother died, but Louisa and her older sister, Greta, like their dad, still haven’t healed. Greta’s miserable, but Louisa approves their father’s decision, prompted by his own mother’s death, to move the family to his childhood home in Pennsylvania. Long estranged from his parents, he’s a proponent of never looking back. Louisa begins to wonder: Who was her dad as a child? What made him the man he is now? More than ready for change, Louisa enjoys school, especially photography class, and basks in unaccustomed attention from two boys. She’d be content to float along on the sparkling present but for the calls on the old, disconnected rotary phone in the attic that anchor her to the past. Each time she answers, a voice begins to relay a chapter, drawn from the well of vanished family history, in the life of her father’s father in Sweden. He and his twin brother were barely adults when war broke out and increasingly troubled by Sweden’s compromised neutrality. Subplots and an awkward, occult plot device briefly distract, but Louisa and her taut, fragile connection to a rarely explored past hold readers’ interest.
Insightful and compassionate storytelling. (Historical fantasy. 12-16)