Louisa June and the Nazis in the Waves
NCSS/CBC Notable Bank Street College of Education Best VLA Cardinal Cup for Historical Fiction CDE Recommended Reading 6th-8th Capitol Choices Ages 10-14
"From the very first page of Louisa June and the Nazis in the Waves, you’ll know you’re in the hands of a skilled storyteller. Vividly and lyrically told." -- Elisa Carbone, author of Blood on the River: James Town 1607
Days after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Hitler declared war on the U.S., unleashing U-boat submarines to attack American ships. Suddenly, the waves outside Louisa June’s farm aren’t for eel-fishing or marveling at wild swans or learning to skull her family’s boat—they’re dangerous, swarming with hidden enemies.
Her oldest brothers’ ships risk coming face-to-face with U-boats. Her sister leaves home to weld Liberty Boat hulls. And then her daddy, a tugboat captain, and her dearest brother, Butler, are caught in the crossfire.
Her mama has always swum in a sea of melancholy, but now she really needs Louisa June to find moments of beauty or inspiration to buoy her. Like sunshine-yellow daffodils, good books, or news accounts of daring rescues of torpedoed passengers.
Determined to help her Mama and aching to combat Nazis herself, Louisa June turns to her quirky friend Emmett and the indomitable Cousin Belle, who has her own war stories—and a herd of cats—to share. In the end, after a perilous sail, Louisa June learns the greatest lifeline is love.
Interviews and Virtual Events
Politics & Prose Virtual Book Chat (with author Sharon Cameron)
The Syosset Public Library Turn the Page Podcast Episode
Starred ALA Booklist: "A deeply moving historical tale, including small but significant details that flesh out the situation and characters, even the secondary ones. Louisa June, Emmett, and her elderly, adventurous Cousin Belle carry the story with their spunk and individualism. An excellent middle-grade read that balances adventure, emotions, and family."
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Starred School Library Journal: "Lovers of World War II historical fiction will find this title engrossing. Many readers will be surprised to learn about German U-boats torpedoing the East Coast of the United States after Pearl Harbor. Elliott's story delivers facts and a thoughtful approach to characters experiencing grief and depression, while adding some maritime adventure in a segment where the family comes together to rescue a British sailor. VERDICT: A must-have for all middle grade historical fiction collections."
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"L.M. Elliott has written a stunning story that will teach young readers (and others lucky enough to find this book) about a little-known chapter of our history. Elliott’s impeccable research of the history, setting, and more bring this story to life and will immerse readers in the time and place. The writing is superb, the dialogue is completely believable, the characters are rich and complex, and the story is very, very compelling. This book is not to be missed."
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Starred Kirkus: "Superb...Nazi U-boats have been torpedoing American ships in the busy waters off Chesapeake Bay. . .her father’s tugboat is torpedoed and her beloved brother Butler is killed. Although her father survives, he is guilt-ridden, and Louisa’s mother, who suffers from depression, blames him for the death. Louisa’s older sister, Katie, moves to Newport News to learn to weld and help build desperately needed ships. . . Left behind at home, grieving for Butler, and with two debilitated parents (but thankfully a strong elderly cousin nearby, the delightfully indomitable Cousin Belle), Louisa does her best to pick up the slack and in the trying, finds her own strength. Evocatively threaded with the scents and sounds of Tidewater Virginia coastal communities, this story presents a fascinating, lesser-known aspect of the war told from a young girl’s perspective. Successfully tackling the devastation of depression on family relationships, the bitter cost of war, and the uplifting strength of no-nonsense friendship, this story has impressive depth."
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Starred Publishers' Weekly: "An infrequently explored aspect of WWII history—German submarines torpedoing U.S. cargo ships along America’s East Coast—underpins Elliott’s well-crafted novel. . .Evocative descriptions of the region’s natural life ground this realistic depiction of one family’s efforts to withstand personal tragedy."
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