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Eleven-year-old Naomi Soledad León Outlaw and her younger brother Owen have lived for seven years in a California trailer park with their maternal great-grandmother. Until now Naomi’s most serious problem has been schoolyard teasing about her last name. That changes when her irresponsible mother attempts to kidnap the children, causing Naomi to flee with her bother and Gram in an attempt to locate their father in Mexico.

Martin O’Boy’s life in a tough Ottawa neighborhood in 1944 is full of ups and downs, but mostly downs since his beloved Granny died. Martin’s genuinely naïve, first-person observations shape a tense story about war on the home front, one family’s desperate poverty and a church musician who molests boys. The happy ending is welcome, and its exaggeration subtly underscores the comic-book heroes Martin enjoys.

 

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