In the 1940s, during World War II, two ten-year-old girls, Jewel and Claudine, are inseparable best friends growing up in Blackburn’s Hollow, nestled within North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. They live in very different homes on opposite sides of a creek that runs through the Hollow. The creek and the fields and mountains surrounding it are their playgrounds as they spend every possible moment together having fun.
However, during the summer after the school year ended, Jewel and Claudine and their parents receive news of a dangerous, communicable disease that had stricken their community. Soon after, their close friendship is threatened as their parents take precautions against the raging polio epidemic by barring their children from spending time with each other. They can only see each other and wave at one another from across the creek. Jewel and Claudine are devastated, and they miss one another deeply. How will these two young girls deal with their isolation and separation and the fact that they cannot be close to each other for who knows how long?
Drawing parallels between the 2020 coronavirus pandemic and the 1940s polio epidemic, this story, based on a true story told to the author, illustrates the struggles and issues children face when they are separated from their friends by something that is unfair and is not their doing. But it also demonstrates hope in prayer and in a little creativity to help overcome obstacles and maintain meaningful connections.