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Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers' Favorite
A heartbreaking, wonderfully crafted coming-of-age story that equally features great historical elements, Promises by Eileen Donovan is a book that will thrill both young adult readers and adults. Meet Lizzie, a thirteen-year-old girl and her nine-year-old brother, Colin, compelled to travel to Canada in 1940 to attend a government school in a bid to avoid the threat from the German army. Her mother thinks her kids will be safe in Canada and the kids are seduced by the idea of seeing cowboys and Indians and possibly the Rocky Mountains. But not all promises made become reality, because as soon as the kids arrive, they are put to a new form of slavery in Nova Scotia. Mr. and Mrs. Harris make the young kids work for them like slaves. All their hopes die when they receive the telegram communicating their mother’s tragic death. Now Lizzie must grow up and find the courage and the way to free herself and her brother. Read on to find out what happens.
Promises is a page-turner, a beautiful story with a wonderful setting and well-imagined characters. The author wastes no time introducing the conflict and the reader is swept away and plunged into a world characterized by tension. The reader can feel the fear and regret in the young girl’s own words: “She terrifies me so much I can’t even answer her. This is not anything like the grand adventure I thought it would be.” I loved the characters, especially Lizzie, and Eileen Donovan has handled her so masterfully that readers will love seeing her facing her fears and standing up for herself and her brother. The writing is confident and eloquent and the author masterfully weaves history into the compelling narrative.