Across a War-Tossed Sea

Across a War-Tossed Sea
Age Range
Release Date
April 01, 2014
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It's 1943, and World War II is raging. To escape the terror of the Blitz, ten-year-old Wesley and fourteen-year-old Charles were evacuated from England to America. After a few near misses with German U-boats and a treacherous ocean crossing, the brothers arrived in Virginia. The culture shock is intense as the London boys adjust to rural farm life and have to learn new sports, customs, and spellings, plus contend with racial segregation and bullying. As time goes by, the brothers begin to adapt to their new reality and blaze their own trails, writing letters home, making new friends, and pitching in to the American war effort. But just when Wes and Charles think they are safe from the terror of the battles raging thousands of miles across the sea, they encounter the very brand of soldiers they were trying to escape: Nazis, from a POW camp right around the corner and U-boats torpedoing American ships off the nearby Atlantic coastline. Suddenly, Charles, Wesley, and their new Virginian family must face the dangers of a foreign war coming too close to home. Award-winning author L. M. Elliott brings a rarely told story of World War II on U.S. soil to light in this gripping and meticulously-researched novel, a companion to the beloved Under a War-Torn Sky.

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World War II Homefront
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Writing Style
Wesley and Charles have been sent away from England during WWII because of the Blitz, and are living with a family on a farm in Tidewater, Virginia. Charles tries to fit in, going by Chuck and playing football, but he wants to go back to England to help with the war effort. Wesley is bedeviled by Ron, one of the boys in his family, who teases him mercilessly, and is also fascinated by Native Americans, have read books about the "wild west" back in England. The boys work hard on the farm, and the war intrudes on nearly every aspect of their lives. There are drives for scrap metal and rubber, rationed food and gas, German POWs in a camp nearby, and shipyards not far away in Newport News. Wes finally makes a friend in Freddy, another rather bookish boy who is living with his grandparents while his parents are working for the war effort, only to find out that he's "not allowed" to be friends with him because Freddy is African American. Charles is terribly upset by the presence of the Germans, whom he despises for bombing his country, until he meets Gunther, who shares some of Charles' interests and is being tortured by other POWs who fought in Africa and are die-hard Nazis. (And who have "SS" tattooed in their armpit so they got preferential medical treatment on the battlefield. Did not know that!) Even though the war is not being fought on American shores, the boys find that there are plenty of dangerous situations on the home front.

This was a particularly good home front book, in that it addressed many of the issues involved with the fighting going on in Europe. Many homefront books are rather boring, but this had a lot of really exciting things happening PLUS a lot of interesting tidbits about the war that I didn't know. The social interactions between the English boys, African Americans, Native Americans, and the Germans were certainly an important part of the book, but Elliott manages to keep this from being slow paced by including some mystery and fighting. Very well done.
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