The year is palpably, pervasively 1945; the place one's own remembered American small town; and Ellis, on the verge of adolescence, the way we were then. She is hurt and baffled when her good friends Sam and (especially) Jules cut in on, and even whisper about kissing, flirtatious Sally Cabeen at the Fourth of July celebration instead of fooling around while the older kids dance, as in previous years. She is annoyed when insensitive Sam teases her about her German grandmother and frightened when her little brother gets lost out by the creek, near a large pipe that is rumored to have a treacherous ""pit"" inside it; and she is shocked and dismayed beyond explaining to her family when the mother of ""simpy"" Sibby, who has nominated Ellis for the Good Citizenship Award, asks Ellis to nominate Sibby back. Most of all she is concerned about Jules' older brother Les who is missing in action, saddened when she sees Les' girlfriend with another boy, and later numb when Les is reported killed. Ellis' Grossie (Grandmother) dies here too and even on V-J day Ellis sees ""that the world would never be safe all the time for everybody."" But helping Jules sort out his feelings of grief and making friends with the new girl in the neighborhood give her an understanding of ""The bustle in a house/ The morning after death"" that she reads about in the Emily Dickinson that was a gift from Grossie. Though inextricably of her time, Ellis will win instant identification from any pre-teenage generation.