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Young Adult Fiction 73
(Updated: June 08, 2024)
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Seventeen-year-old Eleanor is shy but loves numbers. Her classmates call her 'Nervous Nelly'. She's a math whiz but she has other worries. She worries about her Jewish relatives in Europe as the war rages overseas. And she blames herself for her father's stroke. Then during a chance encounter at Math Meet, she's recruited by the U.S. Government to use her math abilities to help a top-secret weapon that will help America defeat its enemies. Can she overcome her nervousness and make a difference? Even if this means facing her worst fears head-on?

What worked: Fascinating portrayal of a teen 'human computer' during WWII. An interesting fact is that the U.S. government used these mostly women mathematicians to use calculations to help break codes and much more. Only recently have we learned about these brave women. Eleanor is one of them.

The novel shows a multi-dimensional character with strengths like her math ability and love of family. But it also shows her vulnerabilities like her nervousness and fear of standing out. Readers see Eleanor go from a shy teen to one who is recruited to help solve a top-secret project across the country. She faces harassment while traveling alone, antisemitism from a fellow recruit, and overwhelming guilt for contributing to her father's stroke.

The author does a great job showing Eleanor as she struggles to feel good enough and to finally face her fears head-on. Also, readers sense the horror Eleanor feels when she finds out the tragic fate of not only her relatives in Europe but all Jewish people.

The romantic angle felt rushed and took away from an otherwise engaging portrayal of a teen during WWII. The story sped up and I felt came to a too-quick resolution.

Overall, this fast-paced novel brings light to the voice of the many women who contributed during WWII.

Riveting historical set during WWII and a teen who helps during the war effort.
Good Points
1. Fascinating portrayal of a teen 'human computer' during WWII
2. Riveting historical
3. Brings light to women who contributed during WWII
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