The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone.
Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic: NY, 2011.

The title hides a serious historical fiction, mystery. Felicity/Flissy, an English girl, is dropped off in Maine by her parents in 1941. It isn't safe for her to live in England with the war on. Her parents leave, and no one is giving her any information about them as the days drag on, especially not her goofy uncle Gideon. Gideon receives letters that she knows are from her dad, but he isn't sharing the information. She's got to find out what's in them, why they haven't contacted her.

The move takes a bit of adjusting. The house is an old captain's home on a cliff, wind whipping around it in a spooky way. The Gram, Auntie Miami, and Gideon are quirky and secretive. One of the biggest secrets being the Captain Derek who doesn't come out of his room. Flissy writes a note of introduction and pushes it under the door. It is received, and the favor is returned. Before long, Flissy is allowed to meet Captain Derek, who is not what she expects at all. She enlists his help with getting the letters, which it turns out are in code, generating another string of questions.

Flissy shakes up the household, and one by one she pushes the members to deal with the challenges they'd like to avoid. They in turn offer her a loving home with plenty to explore. There is a fair amount of sneaking around to uncover the secrets and a bit of boisterousness.

The pace moves at a fast clip trying to keep up with Flissy's antics. There is intertwining of many secrets and twists making for a packed story. The Bathburn clan of Maine is a lively bunch. The relationships forming are delightful. Everything is not resolved at the end, but at least Flissy learns enough to belong.

related-identity, World War I, 1940s, 20th century, United States history, Maine, families, ciphers, performing arts, theater, music

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