Friday, May 25, 2018
The Orphan Band of Springdale
First sentence: Gusta Neubronner hadn't expected to be on a bus in Maine when she lost her father. She hadn't expected to be sitting alone scrunched up next to the dark blue coat of a woman she didn't know, or to have her French horn case balanced between her ankles, or for the weight of a night's worth of not sleeping to be pulling at her eyelids and making her mind slow and stupid just at the moment when she needed to be even more alert than her usual quick-brained self.
Premise/plot: The Orphan Band of Springdale is set during World War II in the months leading up to Pearl Harbor, to America officially joining the War. It's set in a small town in Maine. Nesbit does a MARVELOUS job with the setting.
Gusta--or Augusta--is our heroine. She has gone to live with her grandmother. Her father has fled the country--he's being hunted down by officials who dislike his union leanings. (Remember this is when standing for 'the union' and workers' rights means being a communist). Her mother has sent her to her grandmother for safekeeping. She soon finds friends her own age--a cousin who lives near by and a houseful of foster children that her grandma is caring for. (Some are not truly orphans, just children whose parents can no longer care for them. Remember this is during the Depression.)
School is school. She loves some aspects of it; not all aspects of it. There are a few SNOBS in her class that assume the worst about her, that accuse her of being an alien, of being a foreign spy, of being THE ENEMY.
Gusta needs glasses. Since money is hard to come by and the need is pressing, Mr. Bertmann, the oculist offers her a deal. She'll work for him in the afternoons in exchange for her glasses. Part of her work will include taking care of pigeons.
The other story has to do with 'the band.'
My thoughts: The Orphan Band of Springdale is a character-driven historical novel with HEART. Some books are ALL about the journey and not the destination. Such is The Orphan Band of Springdale. (I loved spending time with Gusta and her friends Delphine, Bess, and Josie.) I loved her at home and at school. I loved her when she was trying to be brave and do the right thing. I loved her when she got into messes. I loved all the banter between the competing milk company kids. It's just a great coming-of-age story.
© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews