Lily can’t wait for summer vacation. Not only will she be returning to Rockaway (the beach!), but she will get to spend all her time playing with her best friend, Margaret, and not playing on her beastly piano. And Poppy, her father, will come down to spend a few weekends there with her! Things could not be better!
And then the tragedies start. First, she learns that Poppy has arranged to have her piano sent to Rockaway so that she can practice right through the summer, bother it. And then, Margaret’s family moves to Detroit. Lastly, she learn that her father, her very own Poppy has signed up to be an engineer in the army. He’s going across the Atlantic to somewhere in Europe. He’s abandoning her!
Lily knows her world cannot get any worse and despairs that it will never get any better. But when Albert, a refugee from Hungary comes to Rockaway, she learns some things. Maybe her life isn’t so rotten after all… and maybe it’s about to get better!
Lily has a huge problem with untruthfulness. She habitually makes up stories and tells them to her friends in order to impress them. She realizes that this isn’t a good thing but doesn’t seem to be convicted over it. The biggest of her lies is that her aunt is a spy in Germany (she doesn’t know where her aunt is or anything about her, really). She tells people that her father is in the Secret Service, when really he is an engineer. Etc., etc. She also lies to her father and grandmother to hide her misbehavior and to get her own way. In the end, Lily seems to have conquered her habit of lying, but only because she realized how much it hurt people, not because she thought they were actually, morally wrong.
Lily and her grandmother do not get along very well. Lily thinks that her grandmother is bossy and stuffy, while Gram thinks that Lily is disrespectful and irresponsible. And in every disagreement between them (that I can remember), I sided with Gram. Lily is a little girl who likes to have her own way. If this means disobeying or lying, then so be it. Whatever it takes, she’ll do it. At the end of the book, Lily has one kind thought about Gram – the typical, “Oh, she really does care for me!” – but her behavior towards her does not change.
Margaret steals a candy bar to give to Lily. Presumably she steals this from her parents, not the store. Lily thinks fondly of a time when she and Margaret tried to steal some money from Margaret’s parents.
Lily mentions that her teacher, Sister Eileen is “much more interested in whether the class had rosaries and clean handkerchiefs in their pockets than who was going to win the war.” [pg. 3]
Lily takes her friend Albert along as she engages in an annual practice – sneaking into the theatre without paying any money. The theatre matron fusses at them, but they are undeterred.
Lily thinks the word ‘d—’ twice (fully spelled). She also thinks, “if Gram ever thought she even knew that word, she’d be in trouble for a month.” [pg. 5] Her friend Margaret uses the phrase ‘holy mackerel’ once.
Conclusion. Not absolutely horrid, but not the best and not recommended.
Review © 2013 Laura Verret