For thirteen-year-old Judy Strand, summers in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, bustle with games of stickball played in the street, fun-filled outings to neighboring Coney Island, and her family’s yearly trip to the Catskill Mountains. But in July 1944, Judy’s carefree days and her innocence are shaken by a discovery: The man she’s always called Pa isn’t her real father. Even more shocking, Judy learns that the father she doesn’t remember was an alcoholic who abandoned his family. That’s why Judy’s mother emigrated to America from Norway. Now Judy feels jumbled inside: She’s angry at her mother for keeping the truth from her–and she’s suddenly awkward around Pa. Nothing her parents say soothes the hurt.
At first, even the attentions of Jacob Jacobsen don’t make her feel any better. Judy likes Jacob; it’s just that his dad’s drinking binges hit too close to home. Ashamed, Judy doesn’t want anyone to find out her secret. But as misfortune befalls Jacob, Judy’s close friends, and her own family, Judy rallies to their side, and in the process recognizes that growing up encompasses forgiveness–of others and of herself.
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