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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Be My Love, written by Kit Pearson. Harper, 2019. $14.99 ages 12 and up

"A psychiatrist! But that's for
crazy people! Dad isn't
c - crazy!"

Crazy isn't a very helpful word,
Maisie. Your dad is obviously
deeply troubled. There's nothing
shameful about it. Lots of men
were affected badly by the war.
He should have seen someone
long ago, before he broke down."

The second world war has ended. The year is 1951. Things are beginning to return to normal for most people. For Maisie, who is 14, much is changing and causing her to worry. Her father served in the war, and has returned with lingering mental health issues following his service as a chaplain. Her friend Jim has stopped talking to her. She is not really interested in what other girls her age are doing. The icing on the cake is when she arrives at her grandparents' house on Kingfisher Island, and her lively and loving extended family are nowhere to be seen. They are away in Vancouver. As luck would have it, they will be back soon.

She has been looking forward to seeing her best friend, Una and doing all the crazy things they love to do together during their summer on the island. Even Una has changed; she is pleased to be wearing new styles in clothing and fully enraptured by an older boy, David. Maisie does her level best to keep Una close. That becomes a problem that almost ends their friendship. Can Una trust Maisie after what she did? Can Maisie let Una know exactly how she feels?

As she so deftly does in each of her wonderful books, Ms. Pearson has created a story that resonates with Maisie's struggle to find an even keel while dealing with so many changes in her life. She is strong, articulate, persistent as she tries to help her father, deal with her feelings for Una and Una and David, and find the right people to help her on her journey to becoming herself. With the realization that it is normal to feel the way she does, she becomes a more assured and understanding daughter, friend, and person. 

As happens in Ms. Pearson's stories, the historical setting is vital and enlightening. It would an excellent read in a middle years classroom to show how much certain long-held beliefs have, and continue to change.

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