A strong-willed, patriotic young girl growing up during World War II dreams of being a war heroine in Tarantino’s (Life at the Café Berlitz: A Memoir of Paris, 2004) heartwarming tale.
It’s 1942 and precocious 11-year-old Alice Calder commits to the war effort as an airplane spotter. Even though Alice is told she is too young for such a job, she perches at her window with binoculars and a logbook—much to her mother’s dismay. The novel chronicles Alice’s adventures and misadventures as she volunteers at the Red Cross, encourages other kids to get involved in the war effort, and keeps in touch with her teenage friend, Jimmy, who flies planes for the Civil Air Patrol. She even looks for spies in her hometown of Providence, R.I., reporting any suspicious activity she sees to police. But she is most interested in Jimmy, whom she admires and has a crush on, even though she doesn’t yet understand her feelings toward him. Tarantino’s convincing narrative evokes Alice’s childlike excitement and fears. When Jimmy disappears after flying in a storm, Alice is extremely upset; her overactive imagination contributes to the overwhelming worry she feels for Jimmy. Desperate to see him again, Alice will do anything she can to help. But Alice doesn’t let much get her down. She perseveres through everything thrown her way, showing her courage, innocence, enthusiasm and zest for life. Her spirit and can-do attitude are engaging and inspiring. The story is unique in that it approaches this time period through a child’s eyes, while the dialogue and inner monologue are spot-on. There’s also an enjoyable balance of period details and characterization, which combine to transport readers back to the ’40s with a fresh perspective on a trying time.
A story for children and adults, full of historical details and humorous anecdotes.