Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Sky is Falling and Looking at the Moon - Kit Pearson

The Sky is Falling is a book that I bought for a reading assignment back in junior high. It is part of a trilogy with Looking at the Moon and another novel that I thought I had, but I don't. Kit Pearson was one of my early introductions to historical fiction. Taking place in Canada, it goes along with my interest in reading novels set during the World Wars. As the back of the book states:

It is the summer of 1940, and all of England fears an invasion by Hitler's army. Norah lies in bed listening to the anxious voices of her parents downstairs. She knows other parents are sending their children to safety overseas, but she is sure her own would never send her away.

Then Norah is told that she and her brother, Gavin, are being sent to Canada. The voyage across the ocean is exciting, but at the end of it Norah becomes more and more miserable. The rich woman in Toronto who takes them in prefers Gavin to her, the children at school taunt her, and as the news from England becomes worse, she is filled with numbign homesickness.

But as Christmas approaches and Norah begins to make friends, she discovers a surprising responsibility that helps her to accept her country.

Told through the eyes of a young girl, it is quite a different perspective on the experiences to World War II. Norah thought that the war was a big adventure, and actually felt like a coward when her parents made the decision to send her and her brother to Canada so that they will be safe. She wanted to stay in England, with them, and be a hero. But, as the war leads to bombing near her home, and the news fills with reports of death and destruction, Norah begins to understand what war is really about. She has a lot of adjusting to do, it is hard to take care of your little brother in a strange new house away from your parents. It is a lot of responsibility for such a little girl. It made her grow up much faster than need be, as the war did in many cases. She finds her place there, though, as this novel concludes and the next one starts.


Looking at the Moon takes place about two years after the first one. Norah and her brother are more settled in Canada. So much so that more often than not Gavin does not really remember his life back in England. He just understands his life in Canada as home. The back of the book for this one states:

Norah, an English "war guest" living with the wealthy Ogilvie family in Toronto can hardly wait for August. She'll spend it at the Ogilvies' lavish cottage in Muskoka - a whole month of freedom, swimming, adventures with her "cousins"...

But this isn't an ordinary summer. It's 1943, and the war is still going on. Sometimes, Norah can't even remember what her parents look like - she hasn't seen them in three years. And she has turned thirteen, which means life seems to be getting more complicated.

Then a distant Ogilvie cousin, Andrew, arrives. He is nineteen, handsome, intelligent, and Norah thinks she may be falling in love for the first time. But Andrew has his own problems: he doesn't want to fight in the war, and yet he knows it's what his family and friends expect of him.

This one is good, historically accurate for the time, but the war is not told in the same colours as it is in the first one. It is more like background noise because it has been so long since Norah and Gavin were in the midst of it. Pearson decides that instead of concentrating on their reaction to the war, she will insert a young man who is battling himself over whether or not he wishes to fight. His family thinks he should, because Norah's guardians son died in World War I and there is a lot of pressure for Andrew to follow in the same footsteps. Norah and Andrew are separated by age, but Norah's wisdom comes out as she guides Andrew down the road to what he wants to do for his country. The war is also winding down at this point, the Americans have entered, so it is just a matter of time before Norah and Gavin go home. I am keeping my eyes open for book 3.


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