Set during the Blitz, Letters From the Lighthouse follows the story of Olive as she is evacuated to a Devonshire village. There she has to adapt to living in strange surroundings, as well as coming to terms with the mysterious disappearance of her sister during an air raid. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that her sister’s story is inexplicably linked to that of her new village.
The narrative took me back to my childhood of reading other WW2 novels. It has all the hallmarks of a classic war text. However, two elements stood out as excellent from a historical sense. I thought the evacuation itself was presented excellently. During this stage, you learnt a lot about Olive and those close to her. Also, the interplay between the villagers and the evacuees was presented sympathetically, yet does not shy away from the obvious tensions that existed between these groups. Any child reading the book would develop a deep empathy towards the characters and understand the implications of war on children.
Yet Letters From The Lighthouse stands apart from other war stories. It manages to introduce characters from different backgrounds and present the war from their experience through one inter-twined story. Olive herself is a fantastic protagonist. Her own experiences in the book shape her own actions and the way she treats others. In fact, every character has their own distinct well-rounded personality which contributes intricately to the plot.
However, what shines through with Letters From The Lighthouse is how the themes resonate with events around the world in the present day, providing thought-provoking moments for readers young and old. We are taken on a journey where conflict divides communities, yet in the face of adversity the common good will prevail. There are genuine heart-wrenching moments, where those on the outside appear that they will never be accepted, yet throughout the message that we are all born human shines through. We are all unique, but still at the end of the day, we should respect others for who they are rather than segregate based on backgrounds.
This book should be in every school library and shared with as many children as possible. If children are to understand the world around them, it is books like Letters From The Lighthouse that will set them on the way. I really cannot recommend this book enough!