BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Willow Run by Patricia Reilly Giff

Willow RunWhether a soldier or a civilian, no one ever escapes the consequences of war. While those on the fighting front face the greatest risks, those left behind have excruciating challenges, as well. Two-time Newbery Honor awardee Patricia Reilly Giff presents the story of the Dillon family during World War II, narrated by the youngest Dillon, Meggie.

The war strains and separates the Dillon family: Meggie’s older brother Eddie is off fighting in France, their German grandfather is targeted by neighborhood boys, and now Meggie and her parents are moving to Michigan so that her father can oversee a top-secret B-24 bomber factory. Annoyed with her grandfather who always calls her Margaret (her passed-away grandmother’s name), ashamed of his heavy accent and his Apfelstrudel, Meggie is relieved when her parents decide that leaving him behind in Rockaway, New York, is the best option for everyone.

The relocated Dillons are surrounded by other transplanted families. On one side of their cramped, ramshackle quarters is Patches, a girl from the mountains whose parents’ factory wages provide enough to buy her a first pair of shoes. On the other side are two brothers from Detroit whose family is still reeling from the death of a soldier uncle. Neighbor Ronelle waits for her flyer husband to finally come home and meet his new daughter. And could it be true that Arnold the ice cream man is really a spy?

Meggie navigates her new life, all the while trying to hang on to the hope that her family will be reunited … and sometimes the greatest heroes are unexpectedly the ones closest to your heart …

Giff is a seasoned storyteller for the middle-grade crowd (Meggie was first introduced, by the way, in Giff’s 1998 Newbery Honor title Lily’s Crossing). She captures all the waiting anxiety, the fear of possibly losing loved ones, and ultimately the hope that will keep the family bound together. In small yet significant ways, Giff shows how war is hell on everyone … and how much better to learn that sooner than later and someday find the means to prevent its destructive repetition.

Readers: Middle Grade

Published: 2005


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