1998 Newbery Honor Title.
This year, as in other years, Lily has planned a spectacular summer in Rockaway, in her family's cozy house on stilts over the Atlantic Ocean. But by the summer of 1944, World War II has changed almost everyone's life. Lily's best friend, Margaret, and her family have moved to a wartime factory town, and worse, much worse, Lily's father is on his way overseas to the war.
- Newbery Medal
Exceptional characterizations and a robust story line turn this WWII homefront novel into far more than a period piece. Spending the summer of '44 at her family's vacation home on the Atlantic, Lily feels angry and deserted when her widower father joins the Army and is sent to Europe just after the Allied invasion. Her ever-critical Gram seems to be breathing down her neck at every turn, and Lily has gotten off on the wrong foot with Albert, the Hungarian refugee boy staying with neighbors. She just can't seem to break out of her self-described role as "a last-row, last-seat kid in school with terrible marks... [who] told lies every other minute." Giff keeps the spotlight off Lily's flaws, refraining as well from overtly linking them to her self-consciousness at being motherless. Rather, she uses them to generate the plot: as Lily and Albert work their way into friendship, Lily tells a lie with unexpected and potentially dangerous consequences. Lily learns her lesson in a resolution that feels psychologically true. In the background, characters cope with wartime shortages, stumble into tragedy as sons and brothers fall in battle-in short, lead complicated lives with the hope of redemption. Closely observed, quickly paced and warmly told, this has all the ingredients that best reward readers. Ages 8-12. (Mar.) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Delacorte Books for Young Readers
December 31, 1996
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Excerpt from Lily's Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff
He couldn't hear her, but in another flash he saw her, she was sure. And the rest of it seemed to be in slow motion. The next wave was so swollen, so tremendously high, that it pulled his boat up, and up, and the boat poised there on the crest for an instant, motionless. She could see him clearly, the orange of his life jacket standing out even in the darkness.
Then, as the wave slid out from under the boat, she could see the forward part rising, almost straight up. Lily watched it, breathless, as it slid back, and in that second, Albert was tossed into the sea.
She could see the orange life jacket a little longer, but after only seconds a wave pulled her boat in one direction and Albert in another and he disappeared.
She kept calling, kept trying to turn the boat in circles, glancing at the lights on the boardwalk to mark her place, watching for the streaks of lightning to show her where he was.
She veered away from his empty boat, which was spinning first high on a wave, then into the crest. In another flash she saw him again, just the quickest glimpse, the orange life jacket, and his dark head above the water.
"I'm here," she yelled, not sure he had heard her, or even seen her, and then another wave came, a mountain of a swell that moved toward them, pushing Albert toward her. Lily could see him turning toward her, his mouth open. He was gulping water, and she reached out, and by some miracle, her hand hooked around the top of the jacket. She held it, feeling her nails rip, but knowing she wouldn't let go, even if she was pulled out of the boat.
But the wave was past them now, and the water grew calm just for the second he needed to grip the boat, and she pulled at his jacket with both hands until he tumbled into the boat.