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Nory Ryan’s family has lived on Maidin Bay on the west coast of Ireland for generations, raising a pig and a few chickens, planting potatoes, getting by. Every year Nory’s father goes away on a fishing boat and returns with the rent money for the English lord who owns their cottage and fields, the English lord bent upon forcing the Irish from their land so he can tumble the cottages and clear the fields for grazing. Times are never easy on Maidin Bay, but this year, a terrible blight attacks the potatoes. No crop means starvation. Twelve-year-old Nory must summon the courage and ingenuity to find food, to find hope, to find a way to help her family survive.
This year, as in other years, Lily has planned a spectacular summer in Rockaway, in her family’s cozy house on stilts over the Atlantic Ocean. But by the summer of 1944, World War II has changed almost everyone’s life. Lily’s best friend, Margaret, and her family have moved to a wartime factory town, and worse, much worse, Lily’s father is on his way overseas to the war.
There’s no one else Lily’s age in Rockaway until Albert comes, a refugee from Hungary, a boy with a secret sewn into his coat. Albert has lost most of his family in the war; he’s been through things Lily can’t imagine. But when they join together to rescue and care for a kitten, they begin a special friendship. For Lily and Albert have their own secrets to share: they both have told lies, and Lily has told a lie that may cost Albert his life.
Sam is almost 11 when he discovers a locked box in the attic above his grandfather Mack’s room, and a piece of paper that says he was kidnapped. There are lots of other words, but Sam has always had trouble reading. He’s desperate to find out who he is, and if his beloved Mack is really his grandfather. At night he’s haunted by dreams of a big castle and a terrifying escape on a boat. Who can he trust to help him read the documents that could unravel the mystery? Then he and the new girl, Caroline, are paired up to work on a school project, building a castle in Mack’s woodworking shop. Caroline loves to read, and she can help. But she’s moving soon, and the two must hurry to discover the truth about Sam.
Hollis Woods has been in so many foster homes she can hardly remember them all. She even runs away from the Regans, the one family who offers her a home.
When Hollis is sent to Josie, an elderly artist who is quirky and affectionate, she wants to stay. But Josie is growing more forgetful every day. If Social Services finds out, they’ll take Hollis away and move Josie into a home. Well, Hollis Woods won’t let anyone separate them. She’s escaped the system before; this time, she plans to take Josie with her.
Yet behind all her plans, Hollis longs for her life with the Regans, fixing each moment of her time with them in pictures she’ll never forget.