Dear Canada: Exiles From the War: The War Guests Diary of Charlotte Mary Twiss by Jean Little
Published January 2010
Hardcover, 248 pages
With the exciting setting of a British girl brought to her father's American family for safekeeping during WWII while her parents return to London, The Romeo and Juliet Code is full of secrets, mysteries and suspenseful moments.
Eleven-year-old Felicity is angry and resentful when she is left in Bottlebay, Maine with her eccentric Uncle Gideon, Aunt Miami and her grandmother known as The Gram, mainly because her glamourous parents have not written to her at all or sent any news as the weeks stretch into months. Instead she has seen letters addressed to her uncle with her father's handwriting on the envelope. And they are from Portugal. Confused, Flissy, as she is nicknamed by her family, wants to find out why her Uncle is so secretive and why she has no news of her parents.
Then she meets handsome twelve-year-old Derek, and they do some investigating, discovering that the letters are in code! In addition, Flissy realizes that her parents and her American family have not communicated in years. There is tension and it all stems from something that happened long ago. This is where the story gets really exciting, except that towards the middle it begins to drag. There is a lot of backstory that pops up right after a suspenseful ending to a chapter. We are left dangling until it resumes again much later. This happened a few times and it left my daughter and I a little frustrated, especially since after they discover the letters are in code, we don't see them actively trying to decipher it.
Stone writes beautifully, though, using symbolism and comparisons throughout the story, such as with Wink, Flissy's teddy bear. She has created colourful characters that quickly drew us into the story. Flissy is adorable and we liked her and her manner of speech. There are adult themes in this book but they are handled well. The story ends with a few surprises that caught my daughter off guard and wowed. She loved it. I thought Flissy accepted her situation a little too readily, and I did not actually know how she felt about it besides acceptance. There are a few things left unanswered at the end and it left my daughter wondering what would happen.
We enjoyed reading this book, loved the title and concept, and learned more about events during a historic and unforgettable time period.
Disclosure: Thanks to Nikole Kritikos from Scholastic Canada for sending us these books for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.
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