Thursday, 20 February 2014

That Burning Summer

'That Burning Summer' is the second teen novel written by English author Lydia Syson.
Lydia takes us back in time to the year 1940.
Ordinary people's lives have been turned upside down and the world is in chaos as World War Two is in progress.
The setting for this novel is Romney Marsh, Great Britain. Germany is threatening to invade Great Britain and the inhabitants of Romney Marsh are attempting to live their lives amidst the ongoing terror of daily air strikes.
Guidelines and instructions are issued by authorities for the general public. For instance, 'Do not rush about spreading vague rumours', and 'Do not give any German anything. Do not tell him anything. Hide your food and your bicycles. Hide your maps.'
There are many strengths to  this novel. One notable strength is the characterization within the novel - characters are well developed and totally believable. For instance, sixteen year old Peggy is growing into maturity and finds herself facing a huge moral dillemma when she befriends a Polish pilot whose plane crashes in the marsh. Does she hand him over to the authorities? What is right and wrong?
Her younger brother, Ernie, is perceived by others to be shy and under confident. He tries to do the right thing and agonises over the instructions he receives. He, too, discovers the Polish pilot and the danger for the pilot escalates.
Another strength in this novel is the strong sense of place and time. Lydia has obviously researched her subject well to include meticulous details and viewpoints that depict the era. To give you an example, Peggy and Ernie's father is a conscientious objector to the war and as such is scorned by some members of the family and community.
'That Burning Summer' is an outstanding novel that I would recommend to all teens, especially those who enjoy historical fiction.


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