Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

The Last Year of the War
Felicitations!  The Hidden Corpse by Debra Sennefelder will be out on March 26.  It is the second book in A Food Blogger Mystery seriesThe Last Second by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison also releases on March 26 along with Half Finished by Lauraine Snelling (one of my favorite authors).  Southern Sass and Killer Cravings by Kate Young releases on May 28.  It is the first book in A Marygene Brown Mystery series. 
The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner takes readers back to 1943.  Elise Sontag was living in Davenport, Iowa with her father, mother and little brother, Max when World War II began.  Her parents were born in Germany, but they emigrated to the United States in the 1920s.  Then one day the FBI come to their home and arrested her father stating he was a risk to national security since he is a German sympathizer and the family assets were frozen.  To keep the family together, Otto Sontag requests that the family be sent to an internment camp. They arrive in Crystal City, Texas were everything they need is inside the camp which is surrounded by armed guards, a tall fence and barbed wire.  The Japanese-Americans outnumber the other internees of German and Italian descent.  Elise becomes friends with Mariko Inoue from Los Angeles.  They have much in common and dream of the future when they can be free to live their lives.  Having a friend makes life bearable at the camp.  But then something unexpected happens and the two girls are separated.  Learn what happens to Elise and Mariko in The Last Year of the War.
 Susan Meissner
The Last Year of the War has an interesting premise about families interned in a camp during World War II.  I like that we get to experience it from a young girl’s perspective.  Elise and Mariko were both born in the United States.  They enjoy the latest music, going to the movies, chatting with their girlfriends and eating Twinkies. Suddenly, their lives are forever changed.  They are taken away from their homes, their friends and extended family and thrust into a new world.  They live in small apartments without showering facilities, but there are shops, vegetable gardens, different types of schools, a pool and other amenities.  They have everything they need except the freedom to leave.  I found it intriguing to learn the details of internment camps (information not included in history class).  We get to see how people’s lives changed overnight and how they had no control over their future.  I found The Last Year of the War to be well-written with developed characters.  I did find the pace to be on the slow side.  The story alternates between 2010 and the past.  Just when you get involved in the past, we jump back to the present (and vice versa).  It was a little disconcerting.  I would then have to remember where we left off in the past and what had happened.  When I finished the story, though, I could see why the author laid it out in this manner.  The author captured the time period especially with her descriptions of the devastation in Germany.  I can tell that she did her research for this novel (very evident).  I especially appreciated the information she included at the end of the book (author’s note). I wish there had been more emotion in the story.  That is the one thing it lacked.  The Last Year of the War is a good book, but it is not my favorite by this author (Lady in Waiting and The Shape of Mercy are two of my favorites). I am giving The Last Year of the War 4 out of 5 stars.  Those readers who love historical fiction will find The Last Year of the War to be a compelling novel.  The Last Year of the War is a story of hope, friendship, promises and staying true to ourselves. 
Thank you for reading my review today.  I am featuring With Winter's First Frost by Kelly Irvin tomorrow. It is the final book in An Every Amish Season series.  I hope you will join me.  I am off to do a little yard word.  In my area the leaves are falling in droves (I have filled five cans this week).  My father rigged a device so I can pick up leaves without having to bend over (because of my back).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
Wonderful Color Photos of Daily Life in Florida in the 1940s

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