The Clearing by Heather Davis

My students just began our Holocaust study so I am on the lookout for most historical fiction centered around WWII.  We normally have a common read aloud focused on the Holocaust while guided reading groups/lit circle hybrids read a variety of books focused on different aspects of life during WWII.  I am always on the lookout for new books about this time period because our Holocaust/WWII unit never fails to have my students asking for more books.  When I received a copy of The Clearing I was excited to read that this romance dealt with a family stuck in 1944.  Perfect!  I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself unable to put this sweet romance down.

Amy moves to the country to live with her Aunt Mae after an awful experience with dating violence.  (NB- I volunteered with Sexual Assault Services in college, so this is a cause close to my heart. I am thrilled to see it getting more exposure in YA). She is drawn to a fog-filled field behind Mae’s house because it seems to be the perfect place to hide from the rest of her life.  But when she crosses through the mist she discovers Henry, a boy stuck in an endless summer, and his family- still in 1944.  By some miracle of time and faith, Henry and his family are stuck in the past.  Henry prayed that nothing would change, trying to stave off the tragedy that will strike the family in the future. Miraculously, his prayer has been answered.  But Amy’s appearance on to Henry’s side of the mist brings him more happiness than he’s ever known.  He falls hopelessly in love with her.  Unfortunately, her mere presence threatens to destroy his safe existence.

I couldn’t put this book down.  It reminded me in many ways of The Time-traveler’s Wife, another favorite.  I already have a list of students that I know will adore By some miracle, Henry and his family are stuck in the past, staving off the tragedy that will strike them in the future. Amy’s crossing over to Henry’s side brings him more happiness than he’s ever known–but her presence also threatens to destroy his safe existence.

I loved this book.  In many ways, it reminded me of another favorite of mine- The Time Traveler’s Wife. I have a mental list of students who will be begging me for a copy of this novel.  As a teacher, I especially love the positive message of the story.  It’s not necessarily a happy ending, but it is the right ending.  This is a tale of love, loss, and letting go.  The story alternates between Henry and Amy, which I really enjoyed.  However, it also jumps between first person and third person.  That was a little jarring for me and I found myself taken out of the story whenever the point of view changed.  However, it wasn’t enough to make me stop reading.

And again, I am very happy to see a book dealing with dating violence.  It’s not graphic, and it’s not even a main plot (more of a subplot), but it’s there.  Definitely a discussion starter.  Highly recommended for romance readers, especially as a tonic for the over-the-top Twilight lovers out there!

*Review copy courtesy of publisher