From the very moment I picked up this book, I knew I was in for a treat; the cover art so perfectly captures the mood of the book that I was pulled in instantly. Young Evie is delighted when her stepfather returns home from WWII, but it becomes clear that the Joe who returned has changed in some fundamental ways. When he unexpected takes the family on vacation to Florida, Evie meets Peter (an old war buddy of Joe's) and falls in love. When a sudden storm leads to an unexpected death, Evie has to grow up fast as she learns more and more about her family and the lies that have been told in the past. In the end, Evie herself must decide whether to lie for the sake of her family or to tell the truth despite the consequences.
The book is a wonderful example of young adult noir, and the author does an excellent job of capturing Evie's naiveté, and that awkward time of transition into adulthood. As Evie explores her feeling for Peter, she tests the boundaries of her family and begins to see some of the cracks in its foundation. When tragedy strikes, Evie finally loses her blinders and sees her family and her life for what they are before making a choice with everlasting effects.
The period language is accurate and helps set the mood of the book. It is certainly possible to see how this story would play out on the silver screen of the 1940s, and I believe young adult readers especially will relate to Evie’s plight throughout the book. This would have been a five star book had it not been for my ambivalence about the ending (no further discussion of that point is possible without risking a spoiler). All in all, an excellent YA book that many adult readers will also enjoy.