School Library Journal
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Gr 6-9-A boy's interests become more global as the news beyond his small town in Illinois takes on personal significance when his older brother enlists in World War II. Eddie spends his days like most farm boys, helping out, playing with friends, and listening in on adult conversations that might pertain to the impending war in Europe. He visits the library and reads the newspapers to find out more; there he meets a Polish immigrant who is also worried about his family in Europe. Jozef Mirga, whom the townsfolk call a Gypsy, bonds with Eddie a bit as he helps him understand the articles. First-person, free-verse vignettes from 1934 to 1944 recount episodes in Eddie's boyhood with his peers and family as he faces the harsh reality of war brought home. The narrative's steady progression focuses on a boy's maturation into his teen years as he increasingly faces the adult world's situations and issues. Basic morality questions concerning the horrors of Hitler's genocide of Jews and Gypsies are loosely woven into the entries in discussions about what America's response should be to a conflict so far away. Eddie's reflections, particularly toward the end of the book, connect the larger peaceful aspirations of a postwar world with the simple individual dreams of a teen who only wishes to go to school and be happy with his girlfriend. While less-competent readers may lose the thread of some of this boy's evolving emotional growth, older readers will better appreciate Eddie's personal story.-Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.