After moving to California with her parents in 1967 and saying goodbye to her father as he leaves for Vietnam, Bets tries to settle into a small town routine. It doesn't take long before the town's most mysterious resident pushes Bets to reconsider how she feels about her mother, the war that has taken her father far away, and her own role in the events that show up in newspaper headlines and flash across her TV screen. "The characters unfold beautifully. They are complex, intriguing, and most of all, real." ~ Sarah Milne, English teacher, Kilmer Middle School, Fairfax County, Virginia.
Fifteen-year-old "army kid" Bets and her parents move to Northern California in July 1967; her father will soon be deployed to Vietnam, and Bets is about to start high school. Bets's new girlfriends tell her that no one knows much about Miss E., the quiet old woman who drives her red truck into the small town of Forestville once in a while. After her father leaves for the war, Bets and Miss E.'s paths intersect, and the two have a profound effect on each other. Meanwhile, the result of a history project assigned by a free-thinking teacher forces Bets to look at the world in new ways. First-time author Herberger creates an engaging story as he adroitly weaves history and mystery into a coming-of-age tale. Relationships, feminism, civil protest, and respect are among the themes highlighted, though they aren't explored too deeply. Even so, readers are likely to draw connections between current events and the political climate depicted in the book, and they'll enjoy the unexpected revelation regarding Miss E.'s identity early on. It's a polished debut with an inspiring protagonist. Ages 12 up. (BookLife)