Ellie is devastated when her beloved older brother Jimmy is drafted for WWII. Her father’s inability to work had kept him out of the fighting up until that point, but with their father well again, Jimmy is once again eligible. Ellie can’t understand why he has to leave her, and fervently promises to keep their Christmas tree up until he arrives home. Not that it will feel like home, with Jimmy moving out and a feisty aunt moving in.
Ellie’s anger and sorrow over her brother is realistic and touching. While the book was somewhat predictable, from the result of the Christmas season to the final ending of the book, it was still an interesting novel. Ellie’s relationships, both with her family and with her friends, were particularly strongly portrayed.
The subplot of a neighbor suffering from what in the modern world would probably be diagnosed as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder gave a perspective that one does not often encounter in historical fiction of this time period. I would have liked to see even more of Buddy and his previously adoring sister. In a way I was almost more interested in Victoria’s story.
This title would be welcomed by any fan of historical fiction. Given its almost inevitable ending, I am not sure I would recommend it to children with siblings in the current war.