This “brilliantly told” (New York Times) Newbery Honor Book gives readers a sense of what it was like to be on the American home front while our soldiers were away fighting in World War II.
As in past years, Lily will spend the summer in Rockaway, in her family’s summer house by the Atlantic Ocean. But this summer of 1944, World War II has changed everyone’s life. Lily’s best friend, Margaret, has moved to a wartime factory town, and, much worse, Lily’s father is going overseas to the war.
There’s no one Lily’s age in Rockaway until the arrival of Albert, a refugee from Hungary with a secret sewn into his coat. Albert has lost most of his family in the war; he’s been through things Lily can’t imagine. But soon they form a special friendship. Now Lily and Albert have secrets to share: They both have told lies, and Lily has told one that may cost Albert his life.
An Excerpt fromLily's Crossing
He couldn't hear her, but in another flash he saw her, she was sure. And the rest of it seemed to be in slow motion. The next wave was so swollen, so tremendously high, that it pulled his boat up, and up, and the boat poised there on the crest for an instant, motionless. She could see him clearly, the orange of his life jacket standing out even in the darkness.
Then, as the wave slid out from under the boat, she could see the forward part rising, almost straight up. Lily watched it, breathless, as it slid back, and in that second, Albert was tossed into the sea.
She could see the orange life jacket a little longer, but after only seconds a wave pulled her boat in one direction and Albert in another and he disappeared.
She kept calling, kept trying to turn the boat in circles, glancing at the lights on the boardwalk to mark her place, watching for the streaks of lightning to show her where he was.
She veered away from his empty boat, which was spinning first high on a wave, then into the crest. In another flash she saw him again, just the quickest glimpse, the orange life jacket, and his dark head above the water.
"I'm here," she yelled, not sure he had heard her, or even seen her, and then another wave came, a mountain of a swell that moved toward them, pushing Albert toward her. Lily could see him turning toward her, his mouth open. He was gulping water, and she reached out, and by some miracle, her hand hooked around the top of the jacket. She held it, feeling her nails rip, but knowing she wouldn't let go, even if she was pulled out of the boat.
But the wave was past them now, and the water grew calm just for the second he needed to grip the boat, and she pulled at his jacket with both hands until he tumbled into the boat.