Twelve months on and Tom is still mourning his fire fighter dad, who died rescuing a child from a blaze. Tom is devastated, but also troubled – for surely his dad should not have risked his life for a stranger. This barely formulated argument, triggered by loss and misery, is given voice in the distorted opinions put forward by his interfering aunt and the bullying newcomer to his class. They taunt him, making his life a misery. When his mum strikes up a friendship with Roy, an American soldier stationed nearby, he is resentful. But Roy, who is wise and perceptive, gradually breaks down Tom’s barriers. He also makes Tom see his dad for what he was – a hero. Just as their friendship grows, Roy is called to war – a situation that precipitates further crisis in Tom’s life.
This story of one child’s journey towards wholeness and courage is essentially optimistic, and by the end the reader is left assured that Tom will now have the strength to face whatever life throws at him.
Simply written, the tale has a warmth and directness that will appeal to young readers. The characters are convincingly alive, and their predicaments real.