She carefully lifted the pile of thick papers and peeked at the book beneath. The title: Whisperwood and the River of Stars. By Peggy Andrews. The green-and-blue cover featured the illustration of the girls.
“It can’t be,” Hazel said quietly. “No.”
Whisperwood belonged to her and her lost sister, Flora. It was a private realm that has sprung to life between them, a make-believe world to endure through the worst of the war, a place to find comfort where little existed.
And it had disappeared with Flora into the river.
For the first time in twenty years, in pure astonishment, Hazel said the name out loud. “Whisperwood.”
Patti is a masterful storyteller. Her ability to transport readers into her books never ceases to amaze me. I have nothing bad to say about this book; I loved everything about it. The story was riveting and had me feeling all those big wonderful emotions. In this book, Patti will hit you with lush and vivid descriptions which will make you feel like you are there with Hazel.
Hazel’s story grabs you by the heart and doesn’t let go until the end. This book is told from two POVs, Hazel, and Peggy, the author of Whisperwood and the River of Stars. It also has dual timelines, one set in 1960 and the other during 1939-1940. I loved the way this book was set up. Patti leads her readers on two emotional stories that eventually connect at the end. The timeline set during 1939-1940 followed Hazel and Flora when they were little girls sent to live in the countryside because of the German bombing of London. The 1960 timeline follows Hazel and her quest to find out how the secret stories she told her missing sister have come to be printed in an actual picture book. Seeing what it was like for so many children who were sent to live with strangers was interesting and heartbreaking. Hazel and Flora lucked out and found a family who loved and treated them kindly, but not all kids were so lucky. The agony parents must have felt sending their kids away is unimaginable. Patti did an amazing job at capturing those emotions and showing her readers what happened in England during this time.
I loved Hazel as a character. You could feel her guilt and sadness at losing her sister through the pages of this book. And when she stumbles upon a copy of Whisperwood and the River of Stars, her hope that her sister might still be alive leapt from the pages. I found myself believing that her sister must be alive. Her quest to find out what happened to her sister was interesting and had some unexpected twists, which I loved.
The Secret Book of Flora Lea is an unforgettable story about two sisters and their bond.
Thank you, Simon and Schuster Canada for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.