Come to a Memory, by Francis Webb, is an extraordinary read. It feels genuine and real. I felt like I was reading a true story from the viewpoint of a little nine-year-old girl, named Lila. America was barely edging out of the depression era and nerves stretched thin by the inconceivable shock, fear, and confusion of another war, so soon after the Great War. This story takes place at the beginning of WWII in a small town and a family suffering financial loss like so many others during the Great Depression. What many people forget is that children were the ones that suffered in silence because that was the way children were instructed to behave, but not Lila.
Lila, intelligent, stubborn, and inquisitive, found ways to-be-heard, by throwing acorns at her cantankerous grandfather, as she hid in a tree, and by hiding a real chicken foot in her sleeve during her grandmother’s wake, terrifying ladies as Lila greeted them at her front door, not with her hand but with the chicken foot—claws and all.
Lila’s complex friendship with a Jewish boy from Germany, named Joab, who came to join her 4th grade class, grew slowly during the time before America entered into WWII after Pearl Harbor. Lila’s choice to befriend Joab, over the sneering remarks of children and adults alike, taught both lessons they would never forget. Through it all, it was Lila and Joab, both suffering for being different, who helped to mend the suspicions of a small town about a little boy who escaped Nazi Germany, though his family did not. I highly recommend this true-to-life story. This historical fiction, “Come to a Memory”, made me cry, made me smile, and made me laugh hysterically. A story that still lives in the hearts of many, still here, to remember the horror that was. I highly recommend this story – to one and all!