Janis Cooke Newman, author of Mary: Mrs. A. Lincoln, once again brings history to life with her sophomore novel, A Master Plan for Rescue. Here, Newman explores New York City as World War II percolates across the Atlantic. Her remarkable novel is filled with stories within stories that recall the superhero serials that its gifted 12-year-old, Jack Quinlan, wholeheartedly believes in.
Like Anthony Doerr in All the Light We Cannot See, Newman renders this time with subtle magic and cinematic grace notes, and intertwines the lives of two very different protagonists. Jack meets a young Jewish immigrant who is capable of fixing any machine, but unable to save what’s most important to him—and who has his own story to tell. The two band together with a group of eclectic sidekicks to develop a plan to save Jewish lives across the ocean.
Newman folds an array of narrative voices into one another throughout this finely polished novel. The leaps made from one protagonist’s tale to another build a grand story about deception, truth and storytelling—all while maintaining a perfect balance of plot and ideas. Newman crafts characters and period details that show an enormous amount of research without ever feeling overwhelming. Messages are often sent in secret—whether it be from a serial inspired “code-o-graph” or from a rooftop pigeon coop—but what is clear is that as filled with heartbreak as A Master Plan for Rescue is, it is also gorgeously hopeful.