Island War

208p. Holiday House. Oct. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780823439546.
Gr 4–6—Giff sets her latest novel during World War II on a remote Aleutian island, off the Alaskan coast. The author notes that the setting is loosely based on the island of Attu, which was invaded by the Japanese army. The Attu villagers were held captive and sent to Japan; only half of them survived and the survivors were never permitted to return to their island home. Giff's story opens in 1941, told through the eyes of 11-year-old Izzy and 14-year-old Matt. Izzy moves to the island with her mother, who seeks solace after the loss of Izzy's father, and Matt moves to the island with his dad, who we learn is secretly working to end the war. The relocation to the island is hard for Izzy and Matt, who dislike each other from the start. When Japanese soldiers invade the island in 1942, both imagine a safe place to hide. When soldiers fence in the village, both Izzy and Matt work to escape the barricades. A rumor starts to circulate that the village is to be evacuated and all the villagers are to be sent to prison camps in Japan. As Matt and Izzy return from an outing, they are shocked to discover that the rumor is true and that they are the only ones left behind, along with some enemy soldiers. They must work together to survive, hiding from soldiers and dodging Allied bombers.
VERDICT Similar in tone to Genevieve's War, Giff's latest illustrates the hardships of war and the importance of self-reliance. Fans of historical fiction will be pleased.

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