by Lucy Sanna
Publisher: William Morrow and Company
Page Count: 336
How got: free from GoodReads FirstReads giveaway
First attention getter: forbidden love on WWII American home front
A memorable coming-of-age story and love story, laced with suspense, which explores a hidden side of the home front during World War II, when German POWs were put to work in a Wisconsin farm community . . . with dark and unexpected consequences
The war has taken a toll on the Christiansen family. With food rationed and money scarce, Charlotte struggles to keep her family well fed. Her teenage daughter, Kate, raises rabbits to earn money for college and dreams of becoming a writer. Her husband, Thomas, struggles to keep the farm going while their son, and most of the other local men, are fighting in Europe.
When their upcoming cherry harvest is threatened, strong-willed Charlotte helps persuade local authorities to allow German war prisoners from a nearby camp to pick the fruit.
But when Thomas befriends one of the prisoners, a teacher named Karl, and invites him to tutor Kate, the implications of Charlotte’s decision become apparent—especially when she finds herself unexpectedly drawn to Karl. So busy are they with the prisoners that Charlotte and Thomas fail to see that Kate is becoming a young woman, with dreams and temptations of her own—including a secret romance with the son of a wealthy, war-profiteering senator. And when their beloved Ben returns home, bitter and injured, bearing an intense hatred of Germans, Charlotte’s secrets threaten to explode their world.
Star Rating - 3 Stars
I found this novel to be the most realistic and visceral exploration of life on the American home front during WWII I’ve come across yet. The hard economic times faced by many, the fear of POWs working among the community, and the endless worry for those fighting overseas all make an appearance. Other issues like PTSD and a forbidden love affair also make suspenseful additions to the overall nail-biting story.
Every character varied in their personalities, giving us many outlooks and POVs to enjoy the story through. I liked seeing through the very different eyes of Kate and Charlotte; their different generational POVs brought more dimensions to the events portrayed and storyline that I enjoyed.
Yet, for all the enjoyment I got out of the different POVs, I found I actually didn’t really like any of the characters. Not really. I never really got around to caring whether Kate got to go to university or how Ben dealt with his post-war health issues or Charlotte’s relationship problems. I just didn’t really care one way or the other. It’s safe to say I wouldn’t be pursuing any of these individuals as friends or acquaintances…
A good story and lovely world building makes this an enjoyable read. The characters provide for different takes on the story, yet I just didn’t like any of them as individuals. Not caring what happens to your leads makes for a strong ding against this book. Not sure if I’d recommend this one, but I think I’d check out the author’s future stuff since this was only a debut. She may approve with experience.
Note: Book received for free from publisher via GoodReads FirstReads program in exchange for an honest review.