Debut author Crockett’s poetic first-person narrative depicts an adolescent’s coming-of-age amid wartime havoc and an unforgiving, possibly post-apocalyptic winter.
When Willo’s family vanishes from their wintry cabin, he sets out on his own to find them, leaving his home in the hills for the nearby town, which is undergoing a Nazi-like occupation. The war is a nebulous monster; though Crockett alludes to World War II, she never fully explicates the novel’s time frame, which may frustrate some readers. Willo’s inventive argot is part-urban vernacular and part-forester twang, and though it offers no clues as to setting or time, it conveys exceptional metaphors that evoke nature and the elements. People Willo has trusted betray him in the face of scarce food and the authorities’ hunt for a faceless resistance, but he perseveres, seizing opportunities to earn his bread and doggedly pursuing information about his father. On his journey, he meets a young girl who turns out to possess unexpected significance in the political landscape, figuring even in his own legacy, a thing he discovers in his difficult search. Willo endures cruel brutality, but Crockett renders in him an intense psychological transformation that is authentic to his character and his circumstances, culminating in discovery of his own voice and vision.
A sentimental tale of hardships, resilience and first-time experiences that illustrates a universal truism: Hope springs eternal in the young. (Fiction. 12 & up)