Monday, April 7, 2014

Lily's Crossing

Author:  Patricia Reilly Giff
Published:  1997
Newbery Honor Book
Had this book been written when I was a child, I would have read it and loved it.  I played out in the "woods" in our backyard at Andrews Air Force Base.  I spent my summers jumping over the creek, climbing trees, and pretending with my friends that we were in a fantasy world.  Lily, the main character, is that kind of girl.  She made up stories about her aunt being a spy and the neighbor was a Nazi spy, she pretended to be an author, she snuck into movie theaters to watch movies without having to pay, she swam out in the ocean and paddled around in a boat.  I liked reading about her life.

Lily has an exciting life with a father, Poppy, who loves her, and a grandmother who cares for her, but she cannot remember her mother who died because she "had something wrong with her heart.  It was too big.  She died right in Poppy's bedroom on a sunny day."

Lily does not really have friends until the summer that she meets Albert.  She had another summer friend, Margaret, but Lily considered her perfect because Margaret didn't really know Lily.  Margaret didn't know that Lily was terrible in school, told lies, and didn't have any other friends.  Lily and Margaret start the summer off together, but Margaret must leave because her father is going to work on bombers in Detroit.  Soon after D-Day, Margaret's brother Eddie, who is fighting in France, cannot be accounted for.  The family cannot bear to return to the summer house, but Lily has managed to make another friend, a true friend, Albert.

Albert had been Hungary and had to escape at the last minute because his parents had been writing a newspaper that was against Hitler.  He and his sister, Ruth escape to France.  Ruth becomes ill and is taken to a convent to live while she recovers, but Albert continues his escape to Canada and then the United States.  Albert worries for Ruth and wants to find a way back to France to be with her.

Lily's father is an engineer and he agrees to enlist so that he can help with the rebuilding process.  Lily must spend the summer with her grandmother at the summer house.

During the summer, Lily and Albert form a strong relationship.  Lily agrees to teach Albert to swim so that he is able to swim to one of the boats that passes by on its way to France for the war.  Albert wants to get on a ship and find his way to Ruth.  Lily promises to teach Albert to swim and then she will go with him so she can find her father in France too.  Lily knows she is lying to Albert, but she cannot help herself.  She loves to lie, or really just make-up exciting stories. 

At the end of the summer Lily returns to her home and to school.  She is no longer the bad student because she has a teacher who supports her amazing imagination.  "Sister Benedicta had told he that all writers did that [day-dreamed] and that as long as you knew the difference between lies and daydreams you were in good shape." 

During the school year Poppy returns.  While he was in France he had the opportunity to meet Ruth because Lily had written about her.  Ruth was waiting for the war to end to go to Canada and be with Albert again. 

Once school is over, Poppy, Lily, and her grandmother return to the summer house.  Margaret is still not there, but Albert has returned and this time he is with someone else, Ruth.

This book is very different from Prisoner B-3087 because it is told from a different point-of-view.  This is the point-of-view of a girl who misses her father because he is at war and it is about how she grows and matures because of her experiences and new friendships.  There is a daily fear of losing a loved one and not knowing whether the loved one is safe.  I used to teach at a school made up of all military children.  It reminded me of all of the deployed parents and how my children struggled through the school year without mom or dad to tuck them in, watch the grade-level shows, or even just help with homework.  I think military children (around 5th grade) would relate to Lily and enjoy reading about someone in a similar situation.  Lily's Crossing ends with a note from the author.  She writes, "I wanted to tell my readers that even though the times are different now, people have always worried about the same things...loss and separation, the future, and sometimes war.  I want readers to know that love and friendship make a difference."   This book is similar to  Prisoner B-3087 because we encounter the same themes.  Yanek lost everything because of war, he missed his parents, and had to figure out what to do with his future after the war.  I worried about my dad in the military as a child, I worry about my own boys and their future, and my students still suffer and struggle with missing parents because of deployments, separations, divorce, ... These are things that we all can relate to because they are things we all struggle with regardless of age or culture.

As I read this book, something seemed so familiar.  This book was published in 1997, so I know it wasn't that I had read this book as a child.  I know that as I child I had read something similar.  I did some research and found another book, The Summer of My German Soldier.  I cannot remember exactly what this book was about.  I remember that a girl hid a German soldier in her attic.  She was keeping a secret from those around her.  Like Lily, helping keep the secret that she and Albert were going to escape to France.  I ordered the book and should get it tomorrow.  I seem to remember enjoying the book.  I'm looking forward to reading it and seeing if there are any ties to the two stories.  I'll let you know.

Check this book out from your library.

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