This historical fiction novel is set in 1931 during the early years of the Great Depression. Ellis Reed is a young society reporter for the Philadelphia Examiner, but longs to be responsible for covering news of more substance and import. When the Editor-in-Chief’s secretary, Lily Palmer, sees a photograph Ellis took on his own in rural Pennsylvania of two young children in front of a “for sale” sign, she gives it to her boss. The Chief then asks Ellis to write a feature to accompany the story. Accidentally, the original picture gets ruined, and the paper asks Ellis to go take another one.
Ellis returns to the place where the kids were, but he finds out they are gone; the sign, however, is still in the yard. He decides to stage another picture, and asks two neighbor kids, Ruby, 8, and Calvin, 5, to pose. He feels guilty but thinks the story is important enough to justify it. Yet the more compliments and success the story garners, the more his conscience plagues him.
Meanwhile, he and Lily have been fighting an attraction to one another, and after Ellis thinks he has lost out to Clayton Brauer, the top crime reporter at the Examiner, Ellis decides to accept a position covering news at the New York Herald Tribune. But Ellis and Lily get together again when they discover that the second set of kids have been sold as well. They work together to find out what has happened to the children, and in the process, also find out about what matters to them the most.
Evaluation: As with previous books, the author does an excellent job pulling us into the historical setting. She makes you want to read more about the period, and in addition, this novel will give you insights into the current traumas being experienced by children separated from their parents. And she makes you wonder: what sacrifices would you make to keep your own children alive? I have yet to be disappointed by this author.
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark, an imprint of Sourcebooks, 2018