Blue Skies (Hardcover)
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Everyone in town is excited about the Merci train full of gifts rolling through from France as a thank you for America’s help in WWII. Glory Bea is expecting a special gift to arrive on the train: her father. No one can stop her from believing in this miracle, not her mom’s new boyfriend or the grownups who thwart her railroad scouting mission.— Rae Ann
Glory Bea Bennett knows that miracles happen in Gladiola, Texas, population 3,421. After all, her grandmother—the best matchmaker in the whole county—is responsible for thirty-nine of them.
Now, Glory Bea needs a miracle of her own.
The war ended three years ago, but Glory Bea’s father never returned home from the front in France. Glory Bea understands what Mama and Grams and Grandpa say—that Daddy died a hero on Omaha Beach—yet deep down in her heart, she believes Daddy is still out there.
When the Gladiola Gazette reports that one of the boxcars from the Merci Train (the “thank you” train)—a train filled with gifts of gratitude from the people of France—will be stopping in Gladiola, she just knows daddy will be its surprise cargo.
But miracles, like people, are always changing, until at last they find their way home.
"A tender story of grief and the gentle comfort of loved ones."
— Kirkus Reviews
"While this title takes place in the late 40s, the themes of loneliness, longing, and waiting for a loved one to return are universal. Readers who know a soldier affiliated with contemporary combat zones may especially empathize."
— School Library Connection
"Glory Bea’s first-person narrative, interwoven with historical details, offers an intimate account of grief and longing, tempered somewhat by lighter moments...Readers will find Glory Bea, and her process of moving forward through loss, sympathetically drawn."
"Bustard captures a patriotic spirit in post-WWII America in this novel inspired by the real-life Merci Train...it offers well-researched details about the era and themes relatable to a modern audience. A subplot regarding Glory Bea’s playing matchmaker for her two best friends adds humor and interest, highlighting the protagonist’s determined attitude."
— Publishers Weekly