(With ellipses to prevent spoilers)
HORN BOOK (STARRED) November / December, 2009
In the course of less than a year in 1917, two neighboring farming families in Michigan face a sea of troubles. Two sons enlist as the United States enters the First World War; . . . Historically plausible, this . . . could potentially be too much for a single narrative, but Frost contains and reveals her story in a set of tightly constructed poems. Eighteen-year-old Muriel, who is our primary source of information, speaks in an engaging and convincing free-verse stream-of-consciousness style. The other two young adult narrators speak in “cupped-hand sonnets,” a form with a highly stylized rhyme scheme. The discipline of these forms (elaborated upon in an author’s note) mitigates against sentimentality, and the distinct voices of the characters lend immediacy and crispness to a story of young people forced to grow up too fast. s.e.
Frost. . . once again offers a layered, moving verse novel. Each selection, alternately narrated by Muriel, Ollie, and Emma, is shaped to reflect the characters’ personalities and relationships: Muriel’s free-flowing entries indicate her restless curiosity; Emma and Ollie’s sonnets follow complementary rhyming patterns, adding a structural link between the characters as they fall in love. The historical details and feminist messages are purposeful, but Frost skillfully pulls her characters back from stereotype with their poignant, private, individual voices and nuanced questions, which will hit home with contemporary teens, about how to recover from loss and build a joyful, rewarding future in an unsettled world.
— Gillian Engberg
This gorgeous collection of “cupped-hand” sonnets tells the story of two families whose lives are forever changed by World War I. . .With care and precision, Frost deftly turns plainspoken conversations and the internal monologues of her characters into stunning poems that combine to present three unique and thoughtful perspectives on war, family, love and loss. Heartbreaking yet ultimately hopeful, this is one to savor. (notes on form) (Historical fiction/poetry. 12 & up)
VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)
4Q 4P M J S
"Beautifully written in formally structured verse, Frost’s story spans nine months from 1917 to 1918. Each of three characters’ poems, with their own distinct rhyming schemes and visual shapes, tell about their lives growing up in two families living on either side of a creek in rural Michigan. . . .To help her suffragette aunt recover after being in jail, Muriel travels to Washington DC, and a whole new world is opened up to her. . . . Frost deals with many issues, including the horrors and experiences associated with war: death, mutilation, separation, how the home front coped; gender roles and women’s suffrage; the Spanish influenza outbreak; and discovering what to do with one’s life. At the end in “Notes on the Form,” Frost explains the formal structure of each person’s verse, which is amazingly done. This beautifully written, gently told story can be used for classroom discussion in social studies and English, or simply for leisure reading." –Jane Van Wiemokly
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
". . . this is Muriel’s story, and her determined personality and independence will resonate with readers.”