True: There is also a lot of books about kids dealing with war and the effects it has on daily life.
True: Jimmy’s Stars is one of those books.
However, even though it’s a WWII book about a child, Ellie (age 11), dealing with how the war touches everyday American life, it doesn’t come off as trite, or overdone, or sentimental. True: it’s a very touching portrait of a girl trying to come to grips with her brother, Jimmy, entering the war. It’s simultaneously a very simple book and a very complex one.
The thing that carries this book from the beginning, is Ellie. She’s so real, so believable, so heart-breakingly hopeful that she literally leaps off the page and into your heart. You want her life to be okay, everything to go on as normal, and yet nothing can because of the war. It touches her life in so many ways — from the big: Jimmy going away, her Aunt Toots coming to live with them, her mother and sister going to work; to the little: to the dreaded summer canning, a girl’s bragging about her brothers being heros.
Interestingly enough it’s both an anti-war book (war does things to people that aren’t very good; is war really worth it), as well as one that subtly chastizes those who don’t appreciate what the soldiers — especially the ones who were just the line soldiers — have done (and do) for the safety of the country (and the world). It’s not often you see those two sentiments paired in a book, but it works well here. And it made me think not only about those who served in World War II, but those that are currently serving. And the sacrifices their families make so I can type here on my computer in relative saftey and freedom, telling you to go read this book.
You won’t regret it.
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel. Thank you.)