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What is this book about?
Headstrong Johanna Berglund, a linguistics student at the University of Minnesota, has very definite plans for her future . . . plans that do not include returning to her hometown and the secrets and heartaches she left behind there. But the US Army wants her to work as a translator at a nearby camp for German POWs.
Johanna arrives to find the once-sleepy town exploding with hostility. Most patriotic citizens want nothing to do with German soldiers laboring in their fields, and they’re not afraid to criticize those who work at the camp as well. When Johanna describes the trouble to her friend Peter Ito, a language instructor at a school for military intelligence officers, he encourages her to give the town that rejected her, a second chance.
As Johanna interacts with the men of the camp and censors their letters home, she begins to see the prisoners in a more sympathetic light. But advocating for better treatment makes her enemies in the community, especially when charismatic German spokesman Stefan Werner begins to show interest in Johanna and her work. The longer Johanna wages her home-front battle, the more the lines between compassion and treason become blurred–and it’s no longer clear whom she can trust.
This was an impressive debut novel. I really enjoyed the story style which was written entirely in personal letters and newspaper articles. The history of utilizing German POWs for American farm labor was something that I was not familiar with. It made for interesting conflict.
Ironically, the story style of personal letters didn’t work for me in getting to know Johanna well. Her abrupt manner kept me at arm’s length for much of the book. However, near the end of the book, when things were desperate for her, I began to feel empathy.
I liked Peter and the friendship between him and Johanna was the beginning of a great love affair. I did feel a little cheated when they met face to face outside of the book. I wanted to see their interaction.
Even though I felt distanced from the characters, I still found the story compelling. Each letter and article begged me to turn the pages.
What I enjoyed most about this book:
The compelling story told through an unusual medium.
What I didn’t like about this book:
I felt distanced from Johanna for much of the story.
Would I recommend this book to others? Yes. The story style was unusual but still a page turner. This is a standalone novel.
Where can I learn more about this author and their books?
-Loraine NunleyThings We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green (4 out of 5 stars) #amreading #BookReview Click To Tweet
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