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Fireweed

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  169 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Two teen-age runaways who refuse to be evacuated from London struggle to survive the blitz of 1940.
Paperback
Published 1972 by Penguin Books (first published 1969)
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(showing 1-30)
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Benjamin Duffy
I was ten when I read this book for the first time. It was recommended for me by my elementary school librarian, who knew I was into military history at the time, and who in hindsight was very clever to use this book's setting during the London Blitz to get me to read a story I otherwise never would have. Smart lady.

For me, this book was the beginning of knowing and appreciating the painful beauty of a sad (not how you might imagine, so I can say that without spoiling anything) ending. It was al
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Cassandra
Jul 28, 2015 Cassandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: genre-ya
This is perhaps 3.75 stars, not quite four. (My opinion has changed, see below.) I love her writing; such beautiful prose, so concrete and direct and carefully measured, and yet it is clearly in her control, for the dialogue sometimes leaps over the lines when the characters are overcome. Her descriptions of London during the war are very good, she captures the confusion of it all, and the strength of people without, I think, undue sentimentalising.

So why not five stars? Hmn, that is a good ques
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Bonnie
Apr 24, 2010 Bonnie rated it really liked it
My friend Barbara introduced me to Jill Paton Walsh at a CLNE Institute (Children’s Literature New England). I’ve read many of Jill’s books and admire her greatly. Finding Fireweed in the Negril Branch Library was an unexpected surprise. This YA book was published in 1969.

It’s set in London during the blitz. Two homeless teenagers, Bill and Julie, become friends as they cope with changes in a once familiar landscape. Jill writes beautifully:

We walked for hours the next morning. We didn’t want to
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Maureen Milton
After a slowish start, this story of two young people who have, for different reasons, fled the arrangements their families have made for them during the blitz in WWII London. The idyll of two unsupervised teens ("Yet all around us death and ruin rained out if the sky. We saw it everywhere, and we were afraid like everybody else, and yet it cast no shadow in our hearts.") is short-lived. They each make decisions that change the course of their lives and, especially that of a young child orphaned ...more
Rachel Brand
Nov 28, 2008 Rachel Brand rated it it was amazing
This was one of my favourite books when I was about nine, and I still love it. I think this is possibly down to all the descriptions, and the idea of people moving somewhere new - in this case, Bill and Julie move into a basement and turn it into a home. I was also really interested in the World Wars as a child (an interest which I probably got from my dad).

This book is rather unusual for a children's book, as it has a fairly sad ending. I can't think of any other books which I've read which ha
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Marian Mayuga
Jan 05, 2016 Marian Mayuga rated it it was ok
Much of what I liked in this book was the writing. It was direct, fluid, and felt fresh; it didn't sound pretentious or sentimental, which effectively reflected the atmosphere during wartime. The friendship between Bill and Julie was also nice to read, as it didn't overdose on drama or sappiness. Subtly, the dynamics of their relationship paralleled the ever-changing situation of the country.

However, I found the characterization of Bill and Julie unsatisfactory, and sometimes they seemed like k
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Andrea
Jul 16, 2015 Andrea rated it really liked it
This book I picked up on a whim at the library book sale, it had an interesting cover that piqued my interest of two black silhouetted face standing before a city in flames. The very first page gripped me into the story of refugees emerging from an underground shelter where a teenage boy is lurking by himself and notices a young girl doing just the same. It follows their story of rebellion to ship out of their home city during the war and of their attempt to survive as London is bombed. Despite ...more
Sam Pope
Apr 07, 2014 Sam Pope rated it really liked it
A powerful book about London during the Blitz and two teenagers - Bill and Julie - trying to survive amongst daily bombings and threats of evacuation either to the English countryside or overseas. This is a story about friendship, loyalty, bravery and also about fear, not just about Hitler's air force dropping bombs but also worry that their existence will be discovered and they will be forcibly separated. The story was marvelous, but I dropped a star because at times the beautifully poetic and ...more
Julie
Sep 29, 2013 Julie rated it liked it
An early children's book by Jill Paton Walsh, now reissued in an attractive new edition by Hot Key Books. Fireweed is the story of two children living under the radar on the streets of London during the blitz of 1940. The description of life in the bombed out streets and collapsing buildings is vividly done, and there is considerable excitement in the children's constant attempts to avoid the authorities. It can't last, of course, and in the end circumstances conspire against them. Some may find ...more
Jennifer
Aug 07, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Bill runs away after being evacuated to Wales during the Blitz. He makes his way back to London and is doing just fine on his own, if a bit grubby/hungry/lonely, until he spots Julie one morning in the mob of people waking up in the Aldwych Underground Station. He can tell immediately that she is another runaway. After an uncertain start, they decide to stick together in order to better their chances of surviving without a home, and without parents, during wartime.

The way Walsh tells a story is
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Lisa
May 26, 2013 Lisa rated it did not like it
This book tells the story of two London runaways during World War II who work together to try to survive without adults. The story fell very flat for me and I was bored most of the time I was reading it. It's disappointing because I think there was definitely potential there, it just didn't come through for me.
Sue
Jun 10, 2015 Sue rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, wwii, young-adult
Two teenagers, Julie and Bill, survive together on the streets of London during the Blitz. The story is told by Bill recounting their experiences, both good and bad, from that time.
Re-read in 2015. This was a different spin from most of the other WWII books I've read. This got down to the fears of surviving the bombings, along with just trying to survive from one day to the next.
Deena
This was an interestingly written story, almost Streatfeild-esque (although nothing at all to do with theatre). I'm glad to have read it as an adult, as I would not have liked the ending when I was a child.
Syed R
Dec 15, 2010 Syed R added it
This is probably the only romance novel I read and surely the only one I remember to haver read. I read in a public library one day from start to finish. This may be just adolescents' romance but it changed my life in some deep yet subtle way ( may be because I too was a teen then )
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Rava Williams
Rava Williams rated it it was amazing
Jul 23, 2013
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Jenny rated it really liked it
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Erin
Erin rated it it was amazing
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Zach O'Brien
Zach O'Brien rated it really liked it
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Jill Paton Walsh was born Gillian Bliss in London on April 29th, 1937. She was educated at St. Michael's Convent, North Finchley, and at St. Anne's College, Oxford. From 1959 to 1962 she taught English at Enfield Girls' Grammar School.

Jill Paton Walsh has won the Book World Festival Award, 1970, for Fireweed; the Whitbread Prize, 1974 (for a Children's novel) for The Emperor's Winding Sheet; The
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