Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
Vera Sedge is one of those women that life is constantly throwing curveballs. Just as she thinks she has things together, something else always falls apart. She tries to raise money by shady methods, like collecting for charities but really collecting for her family, but she doesn’t have the spine or the wherewithal to be particularly successful. Then one day she sees the stream of young evacuees from the Blitz in London go by and decides to take in the limping boy no one else wanted. Noel is not really lame or simple as Vera supposed, his leg just acts up if he walks too much and he is unbelievably smart. Noel is still grieving over the illness and death of his beloved elderly godmother Mattie but the challenge of making Vera’s collections work be more profitable is enough to put a spark back in the boy’s eyes. Will Vera and Noel survive the war and their own bad intentions? Will this odd pair create a new family?
There should be a reference to this book and the character Noel next to the work precocious in the dictionary. He is always the smartest person in the room, even though he is a few years shy of puberty. He knows it, his foster mother knows it, but the dynamic works really well. Even though these two are usually up to no good, they are likable and while their actions are wrong their hearts are (usually) in the right place. A very different perspective and look at life in the “countryside” during the bombings in London.