When Eddie Shaffer enlists as a soldier in World War II, a friend of the family, Penny Goodrich, jumps at the chance to care for Eddie’s motherless children in his absence–secretly hoping to win Eddie’s heart. The children, 12-year-old Esther and 9-year-old Peter, are traumatized by the loss of their parents and resistant to Penny’s overtures of friendship. Esther and Peter gravitate toward their downstairs neighbor, Jacob Mendal, whose wife was killed in an accident at the same time as the children’s mother. Jacob is extremely worried for the sake of his only son, who left Brooklyn to study Torah in Hungary. Meanwhile, Penny, raised by domineering, over-protective parents, enjoys her newfound freedom and discovers that she is capable and intelligent, contrary to what her parents have always told her.
There is a lot going on in this book, but Lynn Austin does a nice job of weaving all the different characters’ perspectives together into a solid story that explores the question: Where is God when everything seems out-of-control? Austin writes in a compassionate manner that makes it easy to empathize with each character. I’ve liked every book of Lynn Austin’s that I have read so far (which is most of them), and this book is no exception. My rating: 4/5.