Book Review: Blue Skies by Anne Bustard

It’s time for another dazzling five-star review, y’all. Trust me when I say I do not adore every book I read. What I have become quite proficient at, over the years instead, is when to say no. I say no to books I don’t think I have the chance to love or appreciate. I always try to give positive criticism when it’s warranted. Since I began blogging for Lone Star Book Bloggers, I’ve encountered genuinely fantastic books. These are cream of the crop, espcially their #kidlit.

I fell in love with Anne Bustard’s Blue Skies. I could not help it. I devoured this book in one sitting and both laughed and bawled at different points. Reading this book felt cathartic in how Bustard brought me smack in the middle of Glory Bea and her family’s lives.

I have a lot of personal connection to the World War 2 era and everything that came after. My maternal grandparents both served. I was raised on their stories and it never fails to grip me with how amazing that generation truly was and is. To those who fought but especially those who grew up during and after.

Our world is living through yet another time of unrest and disquiet. There is rampant fear but also hope. We can’t forget to hope. Blue Skies is fiction, true, but it is also true to the times and experiences people lived then. So much of the heart and themes of this book hold today. And if our grandparents (or greats) could live through such a truly terrifying time, we can too. At the end of this post you’ll find yet another fantastic giveaway, so be sure to read all the way through! Meanwhile, turn back time and discover Blue Skies.

BLUE SKIES

by ANNE BUSTARD

 

Middle Grade / Historical Fiction

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Date of Publication: March 17, 2020

Number of Pages: 224

Scroll down for Giveaway!


Synopsis

Ten-year-old Glory Bea Bennett believes in miracles. After all, her grandmother—the best matchmaker in the whole county—is responsible for thirty-nine of them so far.

Now, Glory Bea wants a miracle of her own—her daddy’s return. 

The war ended three years ago, but Glory Bea’s father never returned from the front in France. She believes Daddy is still out there.

When reports that the Texas boxcar from the Merci Train—a train filled with gifts of gratitude from the people of France—will be stopping in Gladiola, Glory Bea just knows Daddy will be its surprise cargo.

But miracles, like people, are always changing, until at last they find their way home.

 

PRAISE FOR BLUE SKIES

“I loved Blue Skies so much I couldn’t bear for it to end.”   —Patricia Reilly Giff, Newbery Honor author of Lily’s Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods

“A heart-warming (and occasionally heart-wrenching) delight of a book . . .”   Joy Preble, Brazos Bookstore

“A tender story of grief and the gentle comfort of loved ones.”   Kirkus Reviews

GRAB YOUR COPY AT

  Amazon    BookPeople    IndieBound 

goodreads link


Review

5 of 5 Stars

I was instantly drawn into Blue Skies by the whimsically gorgeous cover art and premise. I was unprepared, however, for just how much the book would tug at my heartstrings. World War 2 stories have always resonated with me deeply, thanks to growing up hearing the experiences shared by my grandma. Grandma was an army nurse in both England and France during the War. She often told stories about the people she met in France, the songs they sang while overseas, and the horror of what was left of France after the Nazi’s were pushed back. And Grandma especially loved sharing stories about her “boys,” the soldiers wounded in battle, and the ones who didn’t make it home. 

Blue Skies is the story of Glory Bea, a precocious eleven-year-old girl whose daddy never returned from the war. Blue Skies was the song her daddy sang every morning, and just how she pictures the day when he finally makes his way back to her. Her mother and grandparents do their best to move on with their lives, though they keep Daddy’s place at the table and haven’t moved his things one single inch. Everything is ready for his return, and Glory Bea is convinced this will happen the day of the Merci Train parade. Until Daddy’s best friend in the army, Randall Horton arrives with his songs, charm, and unwelcome ability to make Mama smile again. Change comes to Glory Bea’s life with Mr. Horton and the Merci Train, whether she’s ready for it or not.

It’s impossible not to love Glory Bea and her unwavering faith in miracles. You want her dreams to come true, no matter how unlikely. As with most middle-grade fiction, this is as much a coming of age as it’s about overcoming impossible odds. Glory Bea’s wishes are only part of the charm, and author Anne Bustard’s talent for drawing you into the world of her characters is this novel’s greatest strength. Other favorite characters include Glory Bea’s neighbor and current victim of her matchmaking aspirations, Ben Truman. After having grown up watching her grandmother make perfect matches for much of the town, our heroine is convinced she has the same talent. Glory Bea’s attempts to pair Ben with best friend, Ruby Jane, is hilarious and endearing. 

Though Blue Skies takes place in the late forties, there is a timeless feel in the way each character processes the grief of the war and seeks a new beginning. I confess to feeling almost tongue-tied attempting to convey all the little things I love about Blue Skies. I love the history the author included on the Merci Train, and all the tiny details of life after the war. I love how I couldn’t seem to stop reading until I learned if Glory Bea’s greatest miracle would come true. Blue Skies may be a quick read, but it carries surprising weight and poignancy through its themes. This is Glory Bea’s story as much as it is ours as a country and a love letter to all the soldiers who did and didn’t come home.

**I was provided with a copy of Blue Skies by the publisher and this is my voluntary and honest review.**


MEET ANNE BUSTARD

Anne Bustard is the former co-owner of Toad Hall Children’s Bookstore in Austin, Texas, and an MFA graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of the middle grade novel, Anywhere But Paradise, as well as two picture books, RAD! and Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly, which was an IRA Children’s Book Award Notable and a Bank Street Book of the Year. Hawaii-born, she divides her time between Texas and Canada.

Website ║ FacebookPinterestTwitter ║ Goodreads ║


GRAND GIVEAWAY

THREE WINNERS

Each receives a signed copy of Blue Skies 

March 17-March 27, 2020

(US ONLY)

A RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY


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