The Last Year of the War

The Last Year of the War

eBook - 2019
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From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and As Bright as Heaven comes a novel about a German American teenager whose life changes forever when her immigrant family is sent to an internment camp during World War II. Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943—aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity. The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences. But when the Sontag family is exchanged for American prisoners behind enemy lines in Germany, Elise will face head-on the person the war desires to make of her. In that devastating crucible she must discover if she has the will to rise above prejudice and hatred and re-claim her own destiny, or disappear into the image others have cast upon her. The Last Year of the War tells a little-known story of World War II with great resonance for our own times and challenges the very notion of who we are when who we've always been is called into question.
Publisher: 2019.
ISBN: 9780451492173
Branch Call Number: eBook overdrive
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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darladoodles
Mar 10, 2019

As an Iowa girl and a Susan Meissner fan, this book was a must read for me and greatly anticipated. This departs in style from Meissner's previous work and follows a dual timeline for just one person, German-American Elise Sontag Dove. In 2010, her closest companion is Agnes (her nickname for Alzheimer's), but Elise is determined to track down her old friend Mariko. Meanwhile we learn of Elise's life before and after Mariko in a concurrent plot thread. Viewing WW II through the eyes of someone like Elsa is unsettling. You find a new empathy for those society may have labelled your enemy. A clear demonstration of the power of books and historical fiction especially. Fans of this book can view Crystal City and repatriation from the Japanese viewpoint in "The Diplomat's Daughter" by Karin Tanabe.

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aliciamarie
Mar 09, 2019

Okay, so this is one of my favorite historical fiction books to date! I loved this book! I was raving about it to my fellow book lovers long before I even know how it would end. Then after finishing, I loved it even more and reiterated to them that they HAVE to read it the day it is released!
This story is told from the perspective of Elise in alternating timelines. We start out by meeting Elise near the end years of her life and Alzheimer's is slowly taking her memories from her. Knowing that her past will soon be erased from her mind she sets out to find a childhood friend she hasn't seen since she was a teenager.
As the story unfolds we are taken back to Elise's childhood before the United States entered WWII. We learn about her family and friends and what lead to her and her family being in a WWII US Internment camp in Texas.
I expected the bulk of this book to be about the friendship between a German- American girl and a Japanese-American girl during war time. This story was about so much more than that. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the girls are then ripped apart and their friendship during that short time is what shapes the rest of Elise's life. It is an amazing story, and I found myself thinking about this book long after I closed the last page.
I have never read a historical fiction book told from the perspective of an American teenager (both girls were born in the US) living life in an internment camp. It was a part of the war I was aware of, but until now had never put myself inside to "experience" such a journey. I really appreciated the experience that is rarely talked about or even taught in public schools.
There are so many more parts of this book I am dying to discuss with anyone who will listen, but I hate giving away spoilers, so I will simply say READ IT! You will not be disappointed! A 5 star read!
Huge thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for allowing me an egalley to read and give my honest review.
Happy Reading!

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