Annie Howard is beginning high school in Tacoma, Washington in 1950, four years after her father returned from World War II, having been blinded in combat.  Her mother has opened her own beauty salon as a way of coping with her husband’s disability and the loss of earning power it has meant.  Annie loves her father, and maintains a close relationship with him, but is dismayed by his recurrent depressions and his steady refusal to get a guide dog, go out into the world, and respond to invitations to volunteer with an organization that helps other veterans similarly afflicted.  As the school year begins she meets two new friends, a Dutch brother and sister—refugees whose parents were killed in the war and who now live with an aunt and uncle.  Through them, and ultimately through her father, Annie learns some hard truths about the lasting effects of trauma, about the role of acceptance in healing, and about how a more grown-up love involves willingness to accompany others through some of the darker dimensions of suffering.


Annie is an appealing character and her role in a family deeply affected by post-traumatic stress and the father’s blindness is interestingly complicated in this story.  Her sensibility is that of a teen in 1950—skillfully depicted, but for that very reason possibly a little odd to contemporary teens.  Her relationships with her parents and grandmother, as well as her friends, ring true, as does her processing of others’ depression, anger, sorrow, evasiveness, and efforts to deal with the damage the war left in their lives.  A thoughtful book that offers ample openings for talking about post-traumatic stress, loss, and resilience.


Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

Place Published

Grand Rapids, MI



Page Count