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.
Out November 2020
I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
I’m not really comfortable reading a book written in the epistolary style, but the premise of this debut book grabbed my attention so much that I thought I’d give it a try. What an interesting job to have. The main character uses her background to read and check letters from German prisoners going home to Germany. It’s during WWII and hostility toward the Germans is tangent.
As she translates and reads more, she begins to understand and is compassionate toward them, advocating for better treatment. This is not wildly accept by the Americans.
It’s a fascinating journey to take with the main character and Green has written this so well that you lose yourself in the plot. Her author voice is very smooth and decisive, yet entertaining and strong. Not bad for a debut author.
The plot held a steady pace with interesting twists, nothing outright shocking, but a few surprises. The main character is outspoken and funny, even bringing a few chuckles from the reader. She is stubborn and determined to have her way and not easy deterred. I liked this character a lot.
The facts contained in this book about POWs in the USA and the aftermath of Pearl Harbor with Japanese unrest are bang on and well-researched. I urge other who hesitate to read this book because of the format, to go ahead and give it a try; you won’t regret it.
I gave it: