Light and Air

Holiday House. Jan. 2024. 208p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823454433.
Gr 4-6–It's 1935, and Halle’s life is nearly perfect. She has a best friend, Thelma, and they are perfectly matched. Her momma makes the best paper dolls and wants her to stay young, even though Papa believes Halle should help around the house more. The only not-perfect thing is her relationship with her father, who is always angry with her though they used to be so close. Then, momma falls ill. Momma, Halle’s champion and protector from Papa’s angry words, is taken to a treatment center to recover. Halle is left alone with her emotionally distant and demanding father who expects her to manage the home and care for him. Overcome with longing for her mother, Halle decides to walk to the treatment center to see her. She becomes quite ill en route and ends up convalescing in the same treatment center. During her recovery is when Halle learns the true meaning of friendship, family, and belonging. This historical fiction novel about the tuberculosis epidemic will resonate with today’s readers. They will understand Halle’s turmoil about growing up quickly, and in such a dramatic manner. The recent pandemic will connect readers to Halle’s fears about community illness and her own battle. Many will also feel the pain Halle is as she misses her parent while worrying greatly about her health.
VERDICT A coming-of-age story set in a historical time period that will appeal to many readers.

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