Set in the quaint town of Gold Beach in the 1930s, this sequel picks up right where William S. and the Great Escape (2009) left off.
Eighth-grader William, his brother, Buddy, and his two sisters, Trixie and Jancy, have been living with their Aunt Fiona since they escaped the clutches of their cruel father and half-brothers. William thoroughly enjoys his new life, especially when the opportunity arises to try out for the role of Puck in a prestigious summer production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After a spectacular audition, William clinches the role of Puck and makes himself an enemy in the process—a boy called Bernard, the son of the Dean of Performing Arts, who was sure he had the role locked up. A girl named Clarice, who is quite infatuated with William, insists on trying to solve his problem with Bernard and ends up only complicating things further. Finally, in an initially interesting but not entirely successful subplot, Jancy and William have to face the fact that Buddy is behaving like one of their half-brothers, starting fights and making quite the nuisance of himself. Nevertheless, the description of William’s severe case of stage nerves and his techniques for coping with this and other challenges will resonate with readers.
An adventure story with a lot to say about identity, ambition and character. (Historical fiction. 9-13)