By Kate Albus
“Pop… went to fight Hitler. And a great big chunk of Dory Byrne’s heart went with him.”
– Kate Albus
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Children’s Fiction, Novel, Historical
Community, Hope, Resilience, Treasure, Miracles, Poverty
10 – 13 years
Dory Byrne is not your typical New York City Lower East Side twelve-year-old girl. Despite trying her best, she runs late to school, forgets her younger sibling when she ought to be caring for him, and affectionately refers to the Statue of Liberty as Libby the green goddess. Dory craves adventure, loves a good mystery or thriller (especially if a zombie is involved!), and is on a treasure hunt.
But most significantly, Dory lives alone with her two brothers; responsible Fish, who takes care of the family while his pop is off fighting against Hitler, and young Pike, who dreams of becoming like Captain America.
The Bryne children rely on the neighborhood to give them what they need while their dad is away, but when a meanie new landlord threatens their home in the community that’s raised them and kept them safe, the children need a new plan.
Perhaps the secret elevator in Mr. Caputo’s restaurant – which leads to an abandoned hotel – might be the hiding place they’ve been seeking.
This is a heartwarming story about three scrappy and imperfect siblings who, through resilience and their tight-knit Lower East Side community, experience unexpected miracles in unexpected places.
I would recommend using your discernment with this book. While I adored the storyline and characters, there is some content for parents to consider.
The common NY phrase “What the heck” is repeated often, Dory refers to the Statue of Liberty referred to as the green goddess, and thanks her for a miracle at the end of the story. There is mention of spooky things such as fortune tellers, zombies, and vampires (however it’s all very brief and simply describes Dory’s taste in books and films). There is also a brief reference to a steamy romance book being read by a teacher at the poll, and some children play a prank on an adult.
Most significantly Dory tells a lot of lies which seem to work out for her. If your child struggles with truthfulness, I would not recommend this book. It’s important to remember that children who were living in poverty during WWII often resorted to lying to find food and shelter. There is also mention of fathers dying during the War.
Having said all of this, the themes and important message of community, true treasure, and hope, make this book incredibly special and worthwhile.
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