The year is 1948, just three years after the end of World War II, and the citizens of the tiny town of, Gladiola, Texas, are gradually beginning to look forward to a more peaceful and prosperous future. However, the future doesn’t seem so bright to twelve-year-old Glory Bea Bennett, the strong-willed heroine of Anne Bustard’s moving new middle-grade novel, Blue Skies. Glory Bea’s father was declared missing in action three years earlier during the Allied invasion of Omaha Beach on D-Day. In contrast to her mother and her grandparents, who have grieved the loss and are slowly beginning to rebuild their lives, Glory Bea has refused to accept the death of her father and spends her time thinking of him and daydreaming of his return. Learning that a special Gratitude Train, filled with gifts and surprises from the French people, will soon stop briefly in Gladiola on its way across the country, Glory Bea becomes convinced that her father will be among the train’s passengers. In preparation for the event, she gives herself (along with the novel’s young readers) a crash course in the French language and, without telling anyone else of her expectations, plans a special celebration for her father’s homecoming. As the day of the train’s arrival draws closer, Glory Bea does everything she possibly can to sabotage her mother’s relationship to her charismatic new beau, Randall Horton, an army veteran who served with her father during the war. Blue Skies is a sensitive portrait of a young girl’s struggle to come to terms with loss and disappointment and to open herself to new relationships and new possibilities.
David Shirley ©2020 Parents’ Choice
David Shirley’s recent nonfiction titles include A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park and Fix It Leroy! His YA biographies, Every Day I Sing the Blues: The Story of B. B. King and Satchel Paige: Baseball Legend were honored as the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens.