The Last Year of the War

The Last Year of the War

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner (Historical Fiction)

Most of us are aware that Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast of the United States during World War II were put in internment camps. What many of us might not know is that German-Americans who were suspected of being Nazi sympathizers were also interred.

Elise Sontag and Mariko Inoue are fourteen-year-old Americans in 1943 when they and their families are sent to an internment camp in Texas. Although no one in Elise’s family is a Nazi sympathizer, her family is at risk of being repatriated to Germany, where her parents were born. Likewise, while Mariko was born in the United States, she and her family may also be repatriated to Japan in exchange for American prisoners of war.

Needless to say, their lives are no longer those of carefree American teenagers. Still, as they become best friends, they share their dreams and make plans for their future. And then they are torn apart.

Now, sixty-seven years later, Elise is determined to reconnect with her old friend.

This book just kept getting better and better. The richness of Meissner’s writing drew me in, and the need to know how things turned out kept me reading late into the night. The ending was satisfying while being neither pat nor unrealistic. Meissner (As Bright As Heaven; A Bridge Across the Ocean) creates characters I want to know more about and reveals historical information that is fascinating. I always learn from her books while becoming absorbed in places and times I might not experience otherwise.

Five Stars.

This reviewer received an ARC from the publisher with a request for an honest review.

The Last Year of the War will be released on March 19, 2019 and is available for pre-order.

 

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Girls on the Line

Girls on the Line

Girls on the Line by Aimie K. Runyan (Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction)

Good historical fiction informs as well as entertains. Girls on the Line does a great job of both as it takes us into the lives of young women who served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War I.

While books about World War II abound, not a lot of present-day fiction is set during the Great War. As the author notes, modern-day Europeans are much more aware of the first world war than Americans are. But 100 years ago, Americans — both men and women — were deployed to Europe to fight “the Hun.” Among those individuals were female switchboard operators who volunteered to serve on the front lines connecting the troops with their commanding officers via telephone.

Runyan has done a lot of research, including reading the diaries of women who served in the signal corps. Her story is rich with details as well as nicely developed characters whose fates we become invested in. We see independent young women struggle with the misogyny and paternalism of the era, including the arranged marriages common among high-society families, and we witness the deplorable lack of recognition for the heroism of the “Hello Girls” as the operators were called, when the war ends.

Five stars.

This reviewer received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an independent review.

Girls on the Line will be released on November 6, 2018, and is available for pre-order.

 

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A. McLellan (Historical Fiction)

This engrossing novel immerses the reader in the reality of post-Civil War America, following the intertwining stories of a freed slave, a high-minded West Point cadet, and a strong-willed young woman, each struggling to live his or her life in an era of brutality and greed.

Nothing here is sugar-coated. We experience the terror of newly freed slaves pursued by angry white men filled with hatred. We see the power wielded by wealthy men intent on controlling everyone around them, including their daughters. We witness the mindless slaughter of indigenous people as mercenaries and military seek to incite Indian uprisings in order to justify taking their land. At the same time, we know what a band of renegade Indians has done to white settlers and how their leader treats a female captive. We see the good, the bad, and everything in between as we travel with these multi-sided characters on their quests for freedom from personal oppression.

The result is a book full of believable people who take you along on a journey with no guarantees that things will go well. As in real life, predictability is not an aspect here, and the outcome will keep you thinking about their stories long after the closing has been read.

Grandma gives In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree five stars. 5 stars

Bella Reads and Reviews received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.