Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Blue Skies, by Anne Bustard

After WWII, in thanks for the sacrifices that the United States made both to defend and rebuild their country, the people of France sent forty-nine train box cars full of gifts.  The so-called "merci train" transported those boxcars to each of the 48 states (the 49th car was for DC and the Territory of Hawaii) making stops along to way.  In this lovely middle grade historical novel, one of those stops for Texas's boxcar of gifts was in Gladiola TX, where Glory Bea awaits it anxiously.

Her father went MIA on Omaha Beach and for three years she's been waiting for him to return.  She's convinced that he'll be on that train (especially since they have been promised that there will be a VIP on the train and who could possibly be more important than her Daddy?).  And so, she prepares for his return making sure that the day that the train arrives will be perfect in every way.  With growing consternation, she realizes that his return will be none too soon.  One of her father's comrades from the War has come to visit and everyone can see that he has eyes for her mother!

With loving attention to period details and a penchant for providing local flavor, Bustard successfully transports the reader to life in a small Texas town in the late-1940s.  From Glory Bea's charming family to the tight neighborly attitude, this is a warm and safe space for Glory Bea to come to terms with her loss.  The story is heartbreaking because everyone except Glory Bea knows how things are going to turn out, but she comes through well enough in the end thanks to her strong character.

No comments: