I recently read this book for the second time, as it was one of a selection being used in school for a “War Fiction” topic. I adored this story the first time around, and on re-reading, my opinion is confirmed that this is another example of brilliant writing by Emma Carroll. Yet again, she has excelled in bringing to life thoroughly believable characters, capturing an authentic voice for her narrator and weaving an exciting plot which captivates you from the earliest pages.
The main protagonists are Olive and Cliff, a brother and sister evacuated from London to a small fishing village in Devon during World War II. Their father has been killed, their mother appears to be sinking under her grief and their older sister, Sukie, has gone missing after a bombing raid. The author conveys the relationship between these two younger siblings beautifully; Olive’s love and care for her eight-year-old brother is palpable.
I loved the character of Olive. From the very first chapter we learn that she is proud to be clever,
“I preferred reading books to running about in the street. I didn’t see it as a weakness either.”
Additionally, it is clear that she’s observant, brave and devoted to her family.
I don’t want to spoil the plot for anyone. Suffice to say, it contains plenty of twists and turns to keep you engrossed as Olive tries to decode a mysterious note she has found in the pocket of the coat that her sister was wearing on the night she vanished. The impact of the evacuees on the seaside village of Budmouth Point is described wonderfully, the plight of children from the Kindertransport is told sensitively and different situations help readers to see events from different viewpoints.
Without being preachy, the story also encompasses the themes of empathy, tolerance and kindness; such important messages in our current world. I would recommend this book for anyone of 9 and above, it has certainly proved a popular read with everyone to whom I have personally recommended it.