Reviews for Secrets and Shadows : Two Friends in a World at War


Kirkus Reviews 2013 January #1
Two young Dublin refugees cement a friendship and unmask a Nazi spy in this patchy import. Gallagher crafts a tale that is as much about adjusting to loss and change in wartime as it is about having adventures. Sent to his grandma's in neutral Ireland from Liverpool to escape the massive bombing, Barry meets Grace, a local who has lost her own home to an accidental bombing. She and her widowed mother have been forced to move in with her granddad and obnoxious Uncle Freddie. Along with performing various acts of friendship--most notably, Grace secretly bribes a rough upperclassman to deal with a bully who is giving Barry a hard time--the two engage in counterespionage. They confirm their suspicions about Barry's smooth talking "Polish" gym instructor by repeatedly breaking into his house, ultimately finding a radio transmitter. They then contrive to capture him, narrowly avoiding being shot. The author tucks in plenty of period details and dialogue ("Baggsy first go on the binoculars!") for atmosphere. He not only leaves his protagonists heroes (never mind their predilection for vigilantism), but covers all of the major characters' later lives in an epilogue. While the Battle of Britain isn't culturally central on this side of the pond, U.S. readers may be intrigued by the atypical setting as well as the brisk, if slow to arrive, climax. (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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VOYA Reviews 2013 February
When Barry Malone and Grace Ryan first meet at an Irish sports camp in the summer of 1941, both have independently suffered the menacing effects of World War II. They never would have met had Barry not been sent to Ireland from his home in England to escape the constant horrors of ghastly air raids, and had Grace not been forced to stay with relatives when a bomb pulverized her home. Little do they know that their friendship will again almost cost them their lives. While at camp, Barry begins to suspect that his beloved teacher, Mr. Pawlek, is a Nazi spy. Soon he and his new friend, Grace, are using their critical detective skills to prove his double identity. Their innocent summer project eventually turns into a deadly crusade when they catch Mr. Pawlek red-handed engaging in his spy activities.  Facing potential exposure, he kidnaps the youngsters and threatens to kill them. This pulse-throbbing novel drenched in suspense, mystery, and survival tactics introduces readers to the terrifying effects of World War II. Seen through the eyes of children, this novel is not only a wonderful educational tool for teaching students about Europe's involvement in the Second World War, but it is a fast-paced coming-of age adventure story in its own right. Definitely recommend this to your patrons who relish wartime historical fiction, but do not forget to mention it to your youth who simply enjoy well-written, spine-tingling fiction, junior sleuth tales, and life-and-death scenarios.--Suzanne Osman  4Q 3P M Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

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