Thanks to Kelly and Meggy of Love Books Tours for the opportunity to read and review this historical fiction book. Thanks to Bethany House for providing a copy of the book to read and review.
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
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I thoroughly enjoyed this historical fiction debut novel set in the USA during World War 2. We start to find out about Johanna through a series of letters, many written by Johanna or written to Johanna, or between some of the other main characters, mostly based in the small town of Ironside Lake.
Johanna had escaped from her small town to study at University, but finds herself back in town to be the translator at the POW Camp in her home town. Initially the townspeople aren’t happy to have a POW camp in the area, but Johanna helps educate the locals whilst educating the POW’s. One of the officers, Stefan Werner, makes Johanna feel uncomfortable despite being polite and helpful.
Some of the letters are between Johanna and her University friend Peter, who is the son of immigrants from Japan, who is now at war with the USA. Peter is now working for the US military but has spent a few years studying in Japan – is he going to be patriotic or a traitor?
As we read the letters, we can see that some of the letters are being used in a court case. But who will be heading for court?
As I said before I enjoyed this story. This is an excellent mix of history, mystery and intrigue, wrapped up in so many letters and subplots that I didn’t know who had done what until the very end. I’m pleased I had the opportunity to read this book and I look forward to reading more by Amy Lynn Green in the future.
Amy Lynn Green is a publicist by day and a freelance writer on nights and weekends. She was the 2014 winner of the Family Fiction short story contest, and her articles have been featured in Crosswalk, Focus on the Family magazines, and other faith-based publications over the past 10 years. This is her first novel. Learn more at www.amygreenbooks.com.