From Publishers Weekly
Likable 13-year-old narrator Judy Strand describes life in a Norwegian community in 1944 Brooklyn in this disjointed first novel. In the first chapter, the strange behavior of Jacob Jacobsen, son of the neighborhood drunk, triggers Judy's thoughts about her own recently discovered secret: she is adopted, and she had a baby sister who died. In the process of uncovering the facts about her real father, who is also an alcoholic, and in sorting through her feelings, Judy withdraws from her mother and adoptive father and grows closer to Jacob. Unfortunately, many themes are introduced and then dropped: early on, Judy says of her best friend, Annette, for instance, "There was something different about us-deep down where you couldn't see," yet the narrative never plumbs these differences. Jacob joins Judy's family for a summer vacation during which they become romantically involved, yet, back in Brooklyn, a rift abruptly develops between them, and readers get only a glimpse of the cause. The author packs a lot into this ambitious novel, but the plot lines wind up competing with one another. The narrator's often detached voice distances readers from the events, too. At one point Judy mentions how much she likes her youth group leader, "but I never let on about what was really happening inside me." The audience may well feel the same way. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-A fresh, engaging novel set during World War II in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, then an enclave for Norwegian immigrants. Judy, 13, uncovers an unsettling secret about her past as she sorts through some old family papers: the man she has called "Pa" all these years is actually her adoptive father. Her mother explains that her biological father was an alcoholic who abandoned the family in Norway, and that she had a baby sister who died of pneumonia on the boat trip to America. Stunned and confused, Judy feels betrayed by her mother and awkward around the man she has always considered her father. Being around Jacob Jacobsen, who is sweet on her, only makes things worse as Jacob's dad, another alcoholic, is a constant reminder of the painful past. When his mother requests that he accompany Judy and her family to the Catskills to keep him away from some neighborhood bullies, the protagonist is initially resentful, but by summer's end, the two teens develop a romantic attachment. Readers get a glimpse into Norwegian-American culture along with some realities of life on the home front: yellow and blue stars in front windows, food rationing, older brothers lost in battle, older sisters working to support the war effort, and, finally, when the Japanese surrender, dancing in the streets. Lurie beautifully captures an adolescent's voice and concerns as well as a nostalgic Brooklyn childhood filled with stickball, candy stores, and trips to Coney Island.Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.