Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, one young girl is determined to save her brother from the draft—and gets help from an unlikely source—in this middle-grade tale, perfect for fans of The Wednesday Wars
When eleven-year-old Reenie Kelly’s mother passes away, she and her brothers are shipped off to live with their grandmother. Adjusting to life in her parents’ Midwestern hometown isn’t easy, but once Reenie takes up a paper route with her older brother Dare, she has something she can look forward to. As they introduce themselves to every home on their route, Reenie’s stumped by just one—the house belonging to Mr. Marsworth, the town recluse. When he doesn’t answer his doorbell, Reenie begins to leave him letters. Slowly, the two become pen pals, striking up the most unlikely of friendships.
Through their letters, Reenie tells of her older brother Billy, who might enlist to fight in the Vietnam War. Reenie is desperate to stop him, and when Mr. Marsworth hears this, he knows he can’t stand idly by. As a staunch pacifist, Mr. Marsworth offers to help Reenie. Together, they concoct a plan to keep Billy home, though Reenie doesn’t know Mr. Marsworth’s dedication to her cause goes far beyond his antiwar beliefs.
In this heartwarming piece of historical fiction, critically acclaimed author Sheila O’Connor delivers a tale of devotion, sacrifice, and family.
|Publisher:||Penguin Young Readers Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||10 - 13 Years|
About the Author
Sheila O'Connor is the critically acclaimed author of Sparrow Road, winner of the International Reading Award, and Keeping Safe the Stars, as well as the adult novels Tokens of Grace and Where No Gods Came, winner of the Michigan Prize for Literary Fiction and the Minnesota Book Award. A writer of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction for audiences of all ages, Sheila is a professor in the MFA program at Hamline University, where she also serves as the fiction editor for Water~Stone Review.
Read an Excerpt
Tuesday, June 11, 1968
Dear Mr. Marsworth,
Hello from Reenie Kelly from Missouri, your brand-new summer paperboy. You can count on me to deliver your Tribune. I’m staying with my gram at the top of Gardner Hill. Temporarily. Any problems with your paper, you can find me at Blanche Kelly’s. We’ll be stuck at Gram’s on Gardner until our family has a home.
No one thinks a girl should have a route except for me, but Gram said that I could split the route with Dare. I’m eleven, twelve in August. Dare’s thirteen. I’m not too young to have my own route, Mr. Marsworth. I helped Dare deliver papers back in Denton, and I helped my oldest brother, Billy, before Dare. It’s high time I have at least six blocks of houses to myself.
This week I’ve gone door-to-door to say hey to all my customers, and so far I’ve met all of them but you.
I can’t knock on your door because I can’t unlock your gate, or climb that pointy iron fence around your yard. I’ve rung your rusted bell, but no one comes.
I saw a shadow in your window so someone must be home. Gram says that you’re a loner, but a loner can say hey. And I’m a loner too now, Mr. Marsworth. I’m a new girl in Lake Liberty without a single friend. Two loners could say hey through that tall fence. Mom always said some friendly never hurt.
When we meet up face-to-face, you’ll see for yourself a girl can do this job. (If customers don’t want a girl, Gram says I have to give my half to Dare.)
Give a man a handshake, that’s how Dad taught Dare and Billy to do business, and since this is my first business, I want to do it right.
Is there a time that you could meet me, Mr. Marsworth?
P.S. Could you tell me if you own a mean dog, Mr. Marsworth? That iron fence looks like it’s meant for a mad dog. It’s best if I’m prepared before I start my route next week. In Denton, the Palmers’ vicious shepherd bit me twice.
P.P.S. I know folks wish Glen Taylor wasn’t moving to Mankato, but I promise I’ll do twice the job Glen Taylor ever did. You won’t be disappointed in my service, Mr. Marsworth. A week from Friday when his route is mine, I’ll prove to you I’m right!
P.P.P.S. Do you want your paper rolled or folded? AND how will I collect if I can’t get past your gate?