Monday, July 22, 2013

The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone

When Felicity's glamorous parents leave her with distant relatives in Maine, Felicity isn't happy.  Her Uncle Gideon hides things.  There's an odd person in the house who won't come out of his room.  And the only kids around is too handsome for his own good.  Felicity is on her own, but soon she know that she needs help.  Gideon is getting coded letters from Felicity's parent, and she's sure they're in trouble.  Can Felicity crack the code, heal the family, and save her parents ... all while surviving her first big crush?

I did enjoy this book, which was a surprise given that the cover and back cover synopsis gave no hint to a major part of the story.  When I started reading, I had no idea that this was actually a WWII story or that it took place anytime but the present.  That did cause a bit of confusion at the beginning and I am not sure I would have chosen this book for my weekend read had I known.  Once I understood the setting, the story started to flow.  Stone is quite good at conveying the emotions and mindset of Felicity and her motivations.  Her experiences as a youth in London during the bombings, sneaking on a ship to Maine with her parents and being left in the care of relatives she has never met are well described. As a reader, I was able to understand the isolation and fear she felt.  Young readers not yet familiar with the events surrounding WWII, the bombing of London, the redistribution of English children for safety and how America struggled with the timing of entering the war, will learn in a non-graphic and age appropriate telling.

There was an aspect of the story that I felt was somewhat out of place in this story and, perhaps, in a book for young readers. Some of the secrets and tension that Felicity must deal with concerns a falling out between her parents and the relatives she come to stay with. I found this thread of the story to be unnecessary and somewhat out of place.  I think another cause for the familial falling out would have been welcomed.

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