Author: Amy Lynn Green
Genre: Historical Romance
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.
Reviewer: Winnie Thomas
Set in Minnesota in 1944-45 and told entirely through letters, documents, and telegrams, Amy Lynn Green’s debut novel is a fascinating look at a slice of history that I knew little about.
When a German POW camp is set up near her hometown, Johanna Berglund is recruited from her university studies in linguistics to work as a translator there, although that doesn’t fit in with her life plans. She is a determined, capable, and outspoken young woman who makes the best of it and tries to help the prisoners. Her friend, Peter Ito, is a military language instructor who encourages and supports her. Their letters are amusing and add a touch of fun and amusement to the story. I loved Johanna’s wit and dry sense of humor. The author is a master at creating colorful, realistic characters whose personalities are displayed through the letters of the story.
Although it took me a few pages to get accustomed to the epistolary style of the book, I soon got used to it and enjoyed the novelty of it. It’s a beautifully done and very memorable book. I’m looking forward to more from this talented author.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Mindy Houng
"We can easily hurt others, and once we do, there's no escaping each other. Forgiveness is all that keeps us together, and withholding it keeps us apart."
What a unique and powerful debut novel from Amy Green! Told entirely through letters sent from one person to another toward the end of WWII, the novel speaks about grace, forgiveness, human condition, and the power of love through candid, raw, and often heart-breaking words. There are quite a few letter writers represented in the story but the main voice of Jo is fresh, inquisitive, intelligent, and quite funny while Peter is loyal, kind, true and wise. Jo is somewhat self-centered in the beginning as the introverted prodigy linguist but she weathers the hardships to emerge stronger and more sure. I really enjoyed getting to know Peter and felt a kinship with him as a fellow Asian-American and immigrant. Jo and Peter's friendship is delightful and learning about German POW camps in the US was quite fascinating. This book is soul-stirring, thought-provoking, and truly well-written. It asks us how we, as "just fallible people trying desperately to make sense of an incomprehensibly complex world," can help each other despite our differences in race, color, culture, and religion.
I received a copy of the book from Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.
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