Louisa June and the Nazis in the Waves

HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. Mar. 2022. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780063056565.
Gr 4-6–Middle grade lovers of World War II historical fiction will find this title engrossing. Thirteen-year-old Louisa June lives along the coast of Virginia at the start of American involvement in World War II, as Hitler begins sending U-boats to attack U.S. ships. Her father and brothers work on boats, and will soon be signing up to help with the war effort. Louisa June’s family is directly affected by a torpedo, sent into a tailspin after her father’s tugboat is sunk by the Nazis. Her parents deal with their grief, while she figures out her place in the war and how a teenage girl can be of any help like her older siblings. Cousin Belle proves to be a bellwether figure to the family and an advocate for Louisa June while her mother suffers from depression and debilitating anxiety. Many readers will be surprised to learn about German U-boats torpedoing the East Coast of the United States after Pearl Harbor. Elliot’s story delivers facts and a thoughtful approach to characters experiencing grief and depression, while adding some maritime adventure in a segment where the family comes together to rescue a British sailor. The conclusion happens swiftly, possibly leaving readers disappointed in not knowing what happens next to Louisa June and her loved ones after the daring rescue. Elliot provides a thorough author’s note to dispel any doubts about the authenticity of the events written about in the course of the novel. Main characters are cued as white.
VERDICT A must-have for all middle grade historical fiction collections. Recommend to those who enjoyed Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s The War That Saved My Life and Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch’s Making Bombs for Hitler.

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