Mary Horlock’s debut novel is a combination of modern and historical fiction set on Guernsey Island. It also features a great teen voice in unreliable narrator, Catherine.
The author grew up on the island; I enjoyed this book announcement in the local paper.
Adult/High School–Fifteen-year-old Catherine tells readers right up front that she is a murderer. The victim was her former best friend, Nicolette, an attractive, manipulative, mean girl. Not that anyone on the tiny island of Guernsey is accusing Catherine of murder, which she sees as further proof that the Germans were correct when they called the people of Guernsey a bunch of half-wits. The Germans had occupied the island during World War II. Catherine’s story alternates with that told by Charlie, her father’s older brother. He also begins his story by admitting to murder. He was about Catherine’s age when he was arrested by the Germans during the Occupation and later sent to a concentration camp. The two stories come together with an interesting twist near the end. Teens will appreciate the history of Guernsey, one of the tiny British Channel Islands that is geographically closer to France than England. No less interesting is Catherine’s depiction of everyday life there. Catherine’s dry wit and tough sassiness provide an intelligent narration. While her story seems disconnected from Charlie’s, they both include lies, guilt, and betrayals. Because of the two stories, this novel could appeal to fans of the “Clique” series (Little, Brown) as well as World War II history buffs.–Diane Colson, New Port Richey Library, FL