Elliott, L.M. Across a War-Tossed Sea
1 April 2014, Disney-Hyperion
E ARC from Netgalley.com (Also reviewed at YABC)
Wesley and Charles have been sent away from England during WWII because of the Blitz, and are living with a family on a farm in Tidewater, Virginia. Charles tries to fit in, going by Chuck and playing football, but he wants to go back to England to help with the war effort. Wesley is bedeviled by Ron, one of the boys in his family, who teases him mercilessly, and is also fascinated by Native Americans, have read books about the "wild west" back in England. The boys work hard on the farm, and the war intrudes on nearly every aspect of their lives. There are drives for scrap metal and rubber, rationed food and gas, German POWs in a camp nearby, and shipyards not far away in Newport News. Wes finally makes a friend in Freddy, another rather bookish boy who is living with his grandparents while his parents are working for the war effort, only to find out that he's "not allowed" to be friends with him because Freddy is African American. Charles is terribly upset by the presence of the Germans, whom he despises for bombing his country, until he meets Gunther, who shares some of Charles' interests and is being tortured by other POWs who fought in Africa and are die-hard Nazis. (And who have "SS" tattooed in their armpit so they got preferential medical treatment on the battlefield. Did not know that!) Even though the war is not being fought on American shores, the boys find that there are plenty of dangerous situations on the home front.
Strengths: This was a particularly good home front book, in that it addressed many of the issues involved with the fighting going on in Europe. Many homefront books are rather boring, but this had a lot of really exciting things happening PLUS a lot of interesting tidbits about the war that I didn't know. The social interactions between the English boys, African Americans, Native Americans, and the Germans were certainly an important part of the book, but Elliott manages to keep this from being slow paced by including some mystery and fighting. Very well done.
Weaknesses: This is a companion to Under a War-Torn Sky, but if there are characters in common, I completely missed it.