In the midst of World War II, Jayna, a young orphan, must piece together her family history after her beloved older brother enlists in the army. Her longing for a family counters her constant worry over her brother's safety, and Jayna finds herself losing hope. When she finds clues of her parent's past, Jayna discovers the possibility of finding a grandmother she has never known. Jayna, along with her turtle and an old family recipe book, endeavors to find her grandmother and reunite with her brother. Along the way, Jayna receives help from a mysterious source who makes her believe that she is never really alone.
As another in a long line of young adult novels by Patricia Reilly Giff, Gingersnap never fails to charm, but often feels familiar. The characters, including Jayna and her brother Rob, are likeable, despite having little depth. The plot, too, was fairly predictable, and Jayna's quest to find her family at times felt pointless. Certain details, such as the lucky rock and Jayna's mysterious friend, were interesting touches but not fully explained. I would recommend this book to historical fiction enthusiasts, although I would warn any lovers of Patricia Reilly Giff not to expect anything of her usual caliber.