One Year, 100 Books: While We're Far Apart
Lonks is almost 25% done! HOORAH!—Sparkitors
Book #24: While We’re Far Apart
Author: Lynn Austin
Reason for Reading: My mom’s best friend lent it to her, and she thought that I’d enjoy it.
Quote: Esther's father halted the lazy swaying of the porch swing. "Listen," he said. "There's something I need to tell all of you." The darkness in his voice made Esther's skin prickle. He had used the same phrase, the same tone, when he'd told her that Mama had gone to live up in heaven.
Copyright Date: 2010
Length: 416 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction (World War II)
Rating (out of 10 stars): 7 stars
Summary: The year is 1942. The United States has just entered World War II, and almost every male of good health is fighting overseas. When 12-year-old Esther’s father decides to enlist, leaving her and her little brother to live with a neighbor, she is devastated. With Penny, their caretaker, trying to play mom to children she barely knows,Peter, Esther’s brother, becoming mute, and Mr. Mendel, their landlord and dear friend, constantly fearing for his Jewish family in Europe, the year looks very bleak for Esther.
Review: Has anyone ever read a book about an American Jew during World War II? If you have, please post it in the comments, because I believe this is an important part of the World War II story that is never really recognized. We all know about the terrible deeds of the Holocaust, but what about the Jews who were here? They had to read the stories of labor and death camps in the newspaper every day, and simply hope that any family they had overseas were safe. That was my absolute favorite part about this book. Mr. Mendel’s constant quest for news of his family in Hungary and his fight with the American government to bring them home completely fascinated me, because I had never heard this side of the story.
The other main characters, Esther and Penny, also gave interesting outlooks on the times. Esther’s story revealed what schools were like, how children helped with the war effort, and what it was like to have a parent away at war. Penny showed how much the lives and expectations of women were changed because of the war. The many different outlooks on the war made this book a truly educational (but very entertaining!) read.
I only have two complaints. First, unlike most books with multiple main characters, the chapters were neither marked as to whose point of view nor were they in any sort of order. This could be a bit confusing at times. Second, some parts of the book dragged a little, so this is definitely not what I would classify as a “quick read”.
Recommendation: Like a lot of historical fiction books, I don’t think this book would interest anyone who wasn’t a history dork. However, if you love to read about the past, and especially if World War II is one of your favorite periods, While We’re Far Apart is a must-read. If history bores you, than this book might be the slowest book you’ve ever read.
Are you a fan of historical fiction?
Related post: One Year, 100 Books