A story of friendship and growth for two teen-aged boys in 1940 England--John Alston home from boarding school studying for University exams, and Pat Riley, evacuee from a London slum. Together they know the boredom and helplessness of those too young to fight, who must stay with the women at home where food is rationed and supplies are limited. War is nauseating and dangerous--their sail to Dunkirk provides a first sight of wounded (and frightened) men, and John is injured during the rescue procedures--but it is more satisfying than staying at home, and even his brother, a conscientious objector, wires congratulations. A comprehensive presentation of many points of view (the professional soldier, the battle-scarred, the wife and mother) combines with some understanding of adolescent psychology in a well-paced evocation of the way it was, and the uncertainty of Pat's whereabouts at the conclusion emphasizes the futility of the best intentions. Girls will appreciate the social nuances and the tribute to women's heroism.