An 11-year-old girl living in Portland, Oregon, in 1926 learns about love when she plans to leave her protective grandparents to join her unconventional mother.
Following her father’s death and her mother’s remarriage, Lexie was sent to live with her strict paternal grandparents, who don’t approve of her free-spirited, flapper mother. When her class participates in a project to buy a doll to send with thousands of other dolls from across America to Japan for the Hinamatsuri festival, Lexie’s determined to win a contest for the best letter to accompany the doll, as the winner will attend a send-off party in San Francisco, where her mother will be singing. In her frenzy to win, Lexie disappoints her teacher, grandmother and best friend, Jack, with her thoughtless acts, mishaps and half-truths. Learning from her mistakes, Lexie drafts the perfect letter—which a classmate surreptitiously steals and successfully passes off as her own. When her grandparents sacrifice to send her to San Francisco anyway, Lexie must choose between their steady love and her mother’s frivolous affection. Period details from the actual 1926 exchange of Friendship Dolls provide fascinating context for this old-fashioned heroine’s journey of personal growth.
Historically inclined readers will enjoy this heartwarming story and its feisty heroine. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 8-12)