Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Willow Run

Willow Run

Patricia Reilly Giff
Historical Fiction
For ages 10 and up
Random House, 2005   ISBN: 978-0385730679

Margaret wishes her grandfather would call her Meggie like everyone else. Not only does he use her whole name but he pronounces it in such a German way. There are a lot of words that he says with an accent and it both embarrasses and worries Meggie. After all they are at war with Germany now; Meggie's brother Eddie might be fighting a German soldier at this very minute somewhere in France. When Meggie finds out that she and her parents are moving to Willow Run in Michigan "for the duration" so that her father can work in a war plane factory she cannot help feeling secretly relieved that her grandfather is going to be staying in Rockaway. Mind you she wishes they were not going away and when they get to Willow Run she wishes it even more.

The house Meggie and her parents stay in is tiny and there isn't a single piece of garden to be seen. What would Grandpa think of a place where nothing is growing, where nothing is breaking through the soil and reaching for the sky. Meggie knows - he would hate it. Still, there are other children living in the houses around her and Meggie soon makes friends with Patches, a girl from Tennessee, and Harlan, who comes from Detroit. The three of them talk about the war and imagine that Arnold the ice cream man is a spy.

Then Meggie and her family get terrible news - Eddie her much loved brother is missing in action. Her whole world seems to collapse in on itself for a while. Then Meggie picks herself up and with the quiet support of those around her, she finds an inner strength that she didn't even know she had. Not only that, but despite her own fear and worry, she is able to help others who are grieving and who are struggling with their own demons. More than anything Meggie comes to realise that having her family together is more important than anything else in the world.

A master at creating fiction which touches the soul, this companion volume to the immensely successful and powerful "Lily's Crossing" gives substance to the fear and helplessness that comes with living during wartime. Meggie cannot bear to think that her brother is anything but lost somewhere in Europe. Now, when she might not see him again, she remembers their times together though she has trouble remembering his face. Patricia Reilly Giff has created a moving tribute to all those who waited at home, who worked in the factories, and who did their best to cope with terrible losses, always trying to remember what it was that they were all fighting for.