“Set during the summer of 1968, a profound relationship develops between Mr. Marsworth, an elderly recluse (and draft dodger), and Reenie Kelly, the young girl who delivers his newspaper. Reenie is trying to save her old brother from being drafted, and through written correspondence seeks Mr. Marsworth's help. There are numerous threads to this story, stunning secrets revealed, and various perspectives on the Vietnam War represented. All of the characters are well-drawn, distinct, and memorable, plus there are very provocative, discussion-worthy themes.”
— Mark Adam, Mrs. Nelson's Book Fair Company, Pomona, CA
Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, one young girl is determined to save her brother from the draft--and gets help from an unlikely source--in this middle-grade tale, perfect for fans of The Wednesday Wars When eleven-year-old Reenie Kelly's mother passes away, she and her brothers are shipped off to live with their grandmother. Adjusting to life in her parents' Midwestern hometown isn't easy, but once Reenie takes up a paper route with her older brother Dare, she has something she can look forward to. As they introduce themselves to every home on their route, Reenie's stumped by just one--the house belonging to Mr. Marsworth, the town recluse. When he doesn't answer his doorbell, Reenie begins to leave him letters. Slowly, the two become pen pals, striking up the most unlikely of friendships. Through their letters, Reenie tells of her older brother Billy, who might enlist to fight in the Vietnam War. Reenie is desperate to stop him, and when Mr. Marsworth hears this, he knows he can't stand idly by. As a staunch pacifist, Mr. Marsworth offers to help Reenie. Together, they concoct a plan to keep Billy home, though Reenie doesn't know Mr. Marsworth's dedication to her cause goes far beyond his antiwar beliefs. In this heartwarming piece of historical fiction, critically acclaimed author Sheila O'Connor delivers a tale of devotion, sacrifice, and family.
About the Author
Sheila O'Connor is the critically acclaimed author of Sparrow Road, winner of the International Reading Award, and Keeping Safe the Stars, as well as the adult novels Tokens of Grace and Where No Gods Came, winner of the Michigan Prize for Literary Fiction and the Minnesota Book Award. A writer of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction for audiences of all ages, Sheila is a professor in the MFA program at Hamline University, where she also serves as the fiction editor for Water Stone Review.