An extraordinary novel explores the challenges faced by children whose parents have gone off to war.
When her mother’s National Guard unit is deployed to Iraq, Julia spends her summer with her best friend and cousin, Eliza. The grounds of the century-old mountain lodge where Eliza’s dad works is the perfect setting for Julia and Eliza’s favorite childhood game, in which the girls pretend to be young ladies from the past. For years, their vivid imaginations transported them to another time. Now, though, while Eliza eagerly reenters this imaginary landscape, Julia discovers her mother’s deployment keeps her firmly anchored in reality. The arrival of Michael, a child of another lodge employee, further strains the girls’ relationship. Julia must decide where her loyalty lies: partnering Eliza in their imaginary world or with Michael. Interspersed throughout the narrative are Julia’s accounts of American women who have died in wars throughout history. These poignant commentaries serve to illuminate Julia’s anguish and uncertainty about her mother’s safety.
Baskin adeptly portrays Julia’s ambivalence and anxiety in this thoughtful tale that artfully brings the war to the homefront. (Fiction. 9-12)