HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Lily’s Crossing
Author: Patricia Reilly Giff
Cover Illustrator: Kamil Vojnar
Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell, republished in 1999
ISBN-13: 978-1439521649 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 1439521646 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0440414537 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0440414539 Paperback
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8 – 12
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Giff, Patricia Reilly. Lily’s Crossing (published in 1997 by Wendy Lamb Books; republished in 1999 by Yearling, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House Inc., New York City, NY). It is the summer of 1944, and Lily Mollahan, who is finishing fifth grade, lives in St. Albans, a middle class community in the New York City borough of Queens, with her Poppy, an engineer, and her Gram. Her mother is dead. The three make the usual plans to spend their vacation at Gram’s summer home in Rockaway where her best friend Margaret Dillon and her family also have a summer home. However, with the war going on, her father is drafted into the military, and the Dillons move to Willow Run, MI, near Detroit, so that Margaret’s father can work in a wartime factory. Lily is lonely. Then she meets Albert, a refugee her own age from Hungary, who is staying with his aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Orban, who are neighbors in Rockaway, and the two begin a special friendship.
Albert’s parents operated a newspaper opposing the Nazis in Hungary, and he doesn’t know what has happened to them, but his grandmother sent him and his little sister Ruth to France in hopes of their escaping to America. Albert makes it, but Ruth becomes ill and is kept in France by some nuns, and he is worried about her. Also, Lily learns that Margaret’s brother Eddie is missing in action following the Normandy invasion. Lily and Albert both tell lies to each other, but Lily tells one that may cost Albert his life. What will happen to him? Will he ever see Ruth again? For that matter, will Lily’s father return home? This novel does a really good job of conveying what life was like on the home front during World War II, especially for those who were waiting to hear about loved ones in Europe.
The biggest complaints which I saw about the book are that there is little development of the story line and that it is boring due to lack of action and excitement. Since it is written for youngsters, it obviously won’t have the same degree of development that an adult novel would have. Also, not every story must have a bang-bang, shoot-‘em-up plot to be good. It is true that Lily does some lying and engages in other forms of deception, but she learns an important lesson and changes her behavior. I enjoyed reading Lily’s Crossing, which was a 1998 Newbery Honor Book, and would have given it five stars, except that author Patricia Reilly Giff evidently felt compelled to have Lily herself use the “d” word a couple of times to describe her piano. There is a “companion” novel, Willow Run, about Margaret and her family.