Georgie Collins knows exactly how to make it through life in a new town. Before her father left for Vietnam, he gave her standing orders never to let anyone mess with her, and she won't. As long as she doesn't allow the enemy to smell her fear,
Georgie will survive seventh grade in Glendale, Indiana, just fine. But that doesn't mean she'll like it. How could she? Her school has forced her to participate in a "Good Deeds Program," so she's stuck visiting old people in a nursing home.
What's more, her classes are filled with "peacenik" kids who think the war is wrong - including her only friend. At home,
it seems that the kids her mom is babysitting are constantly whining at her. Worst of all, Georgie's father has been gone a long time - and even though he promised to send her his love every night on the moon, sometimes that's not enough.
This story of a feisty girl's fierce devotion to her father is a powerful reflection on the ravages of war.
Georgie Collins and her mother have moved to a new town (the reader is led to believe her father is serving in Vietnam). Georgie starts at a new middle school, while her mother runs a babysitting business in their home. Desperately missing her father, Georgie is an angry girl, a troublemaker in every way. When she meets the more conventional Lisa, who has a family secret to keep, the two become tentative friends despite their wildly differing temperaments. The plot takes middle readers through a school project that has Georgie and Lisa visiting elderly residents of a nursing home; vicious cliques of girls at school; class debates, even fights, about the war; and unexplained tension at Lisa's house. The characters may or may not appeal to readers. One thing for sure, readers will gain some idea of the strong feelings about the Vietnam War in 1970, and diverging points of view about patriotism and the obligation to serve in a war that many believe is wrong. Georgie feels betrayed when she discovers that Lisa's older brother has fled to Canada to avoid the draft. Do true friends reveal their innermost secrets, no matter how painful? The reader may feel betrayed when Georgie's own secret becomes apparent, but it will certainly change perceptions of several of the characters, including the troubled Georgie, allowing the friends and their families to find peace and reconciliation despite very different outlooks on the war. This unexpected ending becomes the most affecting part of the book. 2006, Farrar Straus and Giroux, Ages 11 to 16.