Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Foreign Field

A Foreign Field

Gillian Chan
Historical Fiction
For ages 12 and up
Kids Can Press, 2002   ISBN: 978-1553373490

When Ellen Logan first meets Stephen Dearborn she is not at all impressed. Not only is he short, not very interesting to look at, and spotty, but he talks all the time and seems to be sucking up to her parents. Stephen is a British pilot in training who is in Canada for a few months until he is ready to begin flying in earnest in the battle against the Nazis. Even though she is hundreds of miles away from the front, Ellen has been very personally touched by the war. Her brother is missing in action, her mother is working her fingers to the bone for the war effort, her father is working longer hours than ever, and she, Ellen, has to keep an eye on her brother Colin and take care of things at home. She is thoroughly fed up with the whole business and wishes heartily that her life to go back to the way it was before the war broke out.

Stephen is also feeling overwhelmed. Not only did he lie about his age when he signed up, but he is now experiencing terrible nightmares about crashing his plane and he is beginning to wonder if he is cut out to be a pilot at all.

Thrown together by circumstances beyond their control, the two young people become friends, and then they become more than friends, leaning on one another when life becomes frightening and complicated.

This touching rite of passage tale beautifully captures the confusion and worry that disrupted the lives of countless people during the war years. Told through the letters that Stephen wrote home to his family in England and from the point of view of both the young people, it gives the reader a very intimate look into the lives of two families who struggled to keep on going at a time when the whole world seemed to be fighting for its life. Despite their differences Ellen and Stephen find a common ground and their chance encounter becomes something that is precious to them both.