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Gary Schmidt’s novel is set in 1967–1968, during the Vietnam War and a period of civil unrest in the United States. Everyone is aware of the war’s effects on American society, but a few characters are more directly affected by the war. The death of an American soldier, although it does not happen at the school, is integral to the novel’s plot. Two devastating national tragedies also occur during the year the novel covers.

Betty Baker,...

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