Shirley Parenteau, Dolls of War, Walker Books Australia, 1 Feb 2018, 320pp., $19.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9780763690694
This historical novel set in Oregon Coast in WWII features eleven-year-old Macy James who faces a dilemma possibly common at that time – expressing her genuine patriotic feelings for her country but remaining loyal and true to what she loves.
Her best friend is Miss Tokyo, one of the 58 exquisite friendship dolls given to America by Japan in 1926. Miss Tokyo is on display in her father’s small museum but now that the two countries are at war neighbours demand that the doll be destroyed. Macy is desperate to prove her loyalty to her country but at the same time she does not want to lose Miss Tokyo who is a treasured connection to her dead mother. Emotions run high when her brother in the navy goes missing and she is sent away to stay with family friends to be safe. What will happen to Miss Tokyo while she is away? She makes a decision which solves one problem but creates others. She is helped by a school acquaintance the boy Chris, who could possibly become a friend.
This is a heart-wrenching story of a girl who has to choose between two conflicting loves in a very difficult time. The war setting is integral to the plot and fascinating for modern readers. Macy is an intense character whose brave struggles are always believable. Parenteau has done her research well and she weaves many little-known details about life at that time into her story. The back story about the doll exchange is fascinating and there is plenty of information available for those who want to explore further. A good place to start would be the other titles about the friendship dolls Ship of Dolls and Dolls of Hope.
Reviewed by Mia Macrossan