genre: historical fiction
As a place of learning, Harvard stands out like shining star. During the dark days of The Great War, however, as a place of tolerance for Germans, it fails miserably. And Wils Brandl should know. Desiring nothing more in life than to write poetry and be left in peace, War has brought hatred and violence to the German Wils' door. And then in walks Helen, the passionate and blue-blooded American, who sees in Wils so much more than a nationality. As Helen navigates her first university experience, her mother's unfortunate choices and a country on the brink of entering the war, she knows that it will only be time until War touches her own life in a way that will change her forever.
As I read back through my summary in the previous paragraph, it sort of makes this sound like a romance novel, but let me assure you that it's not. There is romance in it (which I liked) but it really is a story of war and friendship, and especially of how those left behind handle a loss of such a magnitude in a world where nothing is as black and white as we'd like it to be. Bad people fight on the "good" side of a war and good people fight on the side of the oppressors. Winners, rather than losers, are the ones that write history and that prejudice colors everything.
I liked Helen's spunk. I liked her loyalty. I liked Wils and his quiet strength and willingness to do his duty. War is horrible. I don't really like reading about War, in general, but I thought that the big chunk of the book that takes place during the war was pretty well done, a few scenes stood out as very touching. One big glaring part bothered me a lot, I felt like I was thrown off a cliff, as it were, and until the last page was waiting for a different kind of resolution - this is what prompts me to give the book three stars instead of the four I feel like it probably deserves. I really felt like this one particular, unmistakable, part was dropped into my lap without the same kind of care or detail that the entire rest of the novel exemplified.
I appreciated the divided loyalties, the dense sense of time and place of the novel. I like the authors notes at the end helping me understand what was fact and what was fiction. This was a good read.
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