Genre: Middle Grade / Historical Fiction Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Date of Publication: March 17, 2020
Number of Pages: 224
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For fans of Louisiana’s Way Home, this heartwarming novel tells the story of ten-year-old Glory Bea as she prepares for a miracle of her very own—her father’s return home. Glory Bea Bennett knows that miracles happen in Gladiola, Texas, population 3,421. After all, her grandmother—the best matchmaker in the whole county—is responsible for thirty-nine of them. Now, Glory Bea needs a miracle of her own. The war ended three years ago, but Glory Bea’s father never returned home from the front in France. Glory Bea understands what Mama and Grams and Grandpa say—that Daddy died a hero on Omaha Beach—yet deep down in her heart, she believes Daddy is still out there. When the Gladiola Gazette reports that one of the boxcars from the Merci Train (the “thank you” train)—a train filled with gifts of gratitude from the people of France—will be stopping in Gladiola, she just knows daddy will be its surprise cargo. But miracles, like people, are always changing, until at last they find their way home
PRAISE FOR BLUE SKIES:
“I loved Blue Skies so much I couldn’t bear for it to end.” –Patricia Reilly Giff, Newbery Honor author of Lily’s Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods “A heart-warming (and occasionally heart-wrenching) delight of a book . . .” –Joy Preble, Brazos Bookstore “A tender story of grief and the gentle comfort of loved ones.” —Kirkus Reviews
Wow. I am speechless. What an absolutely beautiful and touching tribute to such a heartbreaking time in our world’s history.
Eleven-year-old Glory Bea believes in miracles, and though her father has not returned from the fighting that occurred at Omaha Beach, she is convinced that he is coming home with the Gratitude Train as it makes its stops across Texas. I had a feeling I was in for some tears, but when the moment happens, and you’ll definitely know when, I was overwhelmed with so much emotion for not only this young girl understanding her father’s absence, but also as the spouse to a service member who has been on many combat tours where the threat of death is very much a possibility. I couldn’t help but feel instantly connected with Glory Bea and her hopeful assurance that everything was going to be just as it once was. Over the course of my husband’s deployments, most recently while having a 4 year-old, 2 year-old, and newborn on my hands, I have constantly been asked “How do you do it?” And the answer has always been, I just do. Like Glory Bea, you hold onto a miracle as tightly as you can. The resonating and steadfast strength of faith beats strongly because there simply isn’t time for anything else. While death or disability is something that you can conceptualize, your mind won’t allow you to go to that place, but God forbid that it should ever happen to my family, I pray that my children and I can face it with half as much grace as Glory Bea and her family.
Stepping back from my emotional attachment to the story, this is very much a testament to fantastic middle grade literature. The historical setting shines in the background, allowing young modern readers to focus on Glory Bea and her own coming of age as she navigates life, love, and loss. Change is coming for Glory Bea whether she is ready for it or not, and it’s a breathtaking delight to walk beside her while it happens. The family dynamics across all characters are incredible to witness. Glory Bea’s grandparents are amazing role models for the entire community and do their best to fill in the gaps left by an entire generation of young adults still reeling from the horrors of war.
The gorgeous and whimsical cover can’t help but lure you to pick up the book, but the precious story of Glory Bea and her family will undoubtedly captivate you to the very end. I would love to see more of these stories from the authorfeaturing engaging and spunky main characters during monumental and interesting historical moments throughout our country’s past. This poignant novel celebrates the love between a parent and child that never ends, the promise of new connections, and is highly recommended to all readers young and old.
Anne Bustard is the former co-owner of Toad Hall Children’s Bookstore in Austin, Texas, and an MFA graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of the middle grade novel, Anywhere But Paradise, as well as two picture books, RAD! and Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly, which was an IRA Children’s Book Award Notable and a Bank Street Book of the Year. Hawaii-born, she divides her time between Texas and Canada.
Many thanks again to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and author extras!