Sunday, November 20, 2016
That Burning Summer
By Lydia Syson
Sixteen-year-old Peggy, her mother, and her younger brother Ernest are living on their relatives’ farm near Romney Marsh. Ernest, who is awkward and fearful, is obsessed with the instructions they’ve been given about doing their part for the war effort and especially looking for spies. When Peggy finds a downed airman, Polish pilot Henryk, who can’t bear to return to flying and fighting after all that he was experienced, she knows she is supposed to report him, but she can’t bring herself to do it and helps him hide instead. As she continues to help him, their feelings for each other blossom and she can’t bear the thought of him leaving. But with Ernest’s curiosity as well as unwanted attention for others who are suspicious of their family, Peggy might not be able to keep him safe.
There were so many interesting facets to this book, including learning a little more about the Polish pilots who fought alongside the British RAF, the family dynamics (there’s a subplot involving Peggy’s father), persecution of those who don’t support the war efforts, and the emotional toll war takes on soldiers. I thought that the relationship between Peggy and Henryk would be my favorite part of the book, and while I did enjoy that part, I think what might have been most fascinating is seeing how Ernest tried to cope with all of the information and situations that he faced. I was a little disappointed in the ending—the final chapter didn’t have as much information as I would have liked, as it skips to the end of the war and doesn’t give much detail about what happened in the previous five years—but I think that’s my one quibble with the book. I received a copy from NetGalley. All opinions are my own.