Louisa June and the Nazis in the Waves

If you like historical novels, especially those centered around WWII, then this unique title will be just the ticket you need. Louisa June and the Nazis in the Waves is set in Virginia where the vast waters it borders have become a hazard to everyone living there. The history is boldly exposed as to how Nazi U-boat submarines sank nearly 400 U.S. freighters and tankers off the eastern coastline. Here’s the book jacket synopsis:

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.

The first person narration by Louisa is a perfect way to tell the story of this little known event in U.S. history. It was all new to me. Centered around Louisa’s family the scenes show how depression lacked treatment options in the 1940’s along with the devastating effects of war. Louisa exhibits bravery but also emotional setbacks.

L.M. Elliot has crafted a well researched and important look at how the effects of World War impacted the home front. Although recommended for grades 3-7, the majority of readers will likely be from those in middle school.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: March 22, 2022 PAGE COUNT: 320


  1. Don’t skip the 17-page author note in the back. There you will get a deeper understanding of the historical aspects along with resources for those suffering from depression in today’s world.
  2. Cousin Belle is a take charge kind of woman and she’s hard not to like. So many good things in this person and Louisa is lucky to have her support.
  3. The harrowing climatic ending scene will have you gripping the book in anticipation of the dangers unfolding.
  4. The realization mental illness in the 40’s was more of a hidden condition. All you could do was hope the person got better with whatever had taken over their normal way of living. Thankfully, things have progressed the past 80 years though we still have a long way to go.
  5. The fact that war effects more than just those fighting. It’s the children who often feel helpless in doing anything but Louisa can’s sit back and do nothing. Her emotions in every situation are honest and hard to predict. A great character arc here.


L. M. Elliott was an award-winning Washington-based magazine journalist, covering women’s issues, mental health, and the performing arts, before becoming a New York Times best-selling author of historical and biographical fiction. Her novels explore a variety of eras (the Italian Renaissance, the American Revolutionary War, WWII, and the Cold War), and are written for a variety of ages. Many of her works have been named NCSS/CBC Notables (National Council of Social Studies and Children’s Book Council), Bank Street College Best Books, Jefferson Cup Honor Books, Kirkus Bests, and Grateful American Book Prize winners. Elliott holds a BA from Wake Forest University and a master’s in journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill. She is a lifelong Virginian and history-lover.

(For more visit the author’s web page)


I received a copy of the book to use for my honest review. Comments are welcome below.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Historical fiction, Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Louisa June and the Nazis in the Waves

  1. This book sounds really good, I love reading about events (or people) that are often overlooked or unknown, and this sounds fascinating, especially with the extra layer of mental heath problems (still stigmatised, although much less so today, and understanding and support are hugely improved).

  2. This sounds like a fantastic book. I know nothing about that part of our history. My grandmother suffered from depression back then. The treatments she endured were not good. Thanks for sharing about this book and my post on Wednesday.

  3. schmelzb says:

    I have been following Elliott’s historical fiction novels since I met her at a local SCBWI conference in VA. Love her books. Thanks for highlighting this newest one, Greg. She’s also an encouraging mentor!

  4. Danielle Hammelef says:

    I read an interview with the author about her extensive research while writing this novel and that alone made me want to read her book. Thank you for reminding me about it.

  5. msyingling says:

    I love Elliott’s books and have most of them. The cover on this one is really striking.

  6. Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    This sounds like such a compelling novel, with the mix of historical fiction, a compelling narrator, and a bit of exploration of mental health issues during that time period as well! Thanks so much for the great review, Greg!

  7. I would love this book! Adding it to my list. It’s history I haven’t read! Thanks for sharing today!

  8. I am going to have to get a copy of this book. It has everything I like in a book, and it sounds well-researched and important. Thanks for telling me about it.

  9. carolbaldwin says:

    This sounds excellent. Glad to see a book that takes place on this side of the Atlantic and how it affected kids here. I always thought there was a hole in WWII books for that topic.

  10. This looks good. I’m always a sucker for a good WWII book. Well, I’m a sucker for anything that’s historical!

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