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|Title: Long Way Home|
By: Lynn Austin
Number of Pages: 400
Vendor: Tyndale House
|Publication Date: 2022|
Weight: 11 ounces
Stock No: WW437403
Peggy Serrano couldnt wait for her best friend to come home from the war. But the Jimmy Barnett who returns is much different from the Jimmy who left, changed so drastically by his experience as a medic in Europe that he can barely function. When he attempts the unthinkable, his parents check him into the VA hospital. Peggy determines to help the Barnetts unravel what might have happened to send their son over the edge. She starts by contacting Jimmys war buddies, trying to identify the mysterious woman in the photo they find in Jimmys belongings.
Seven years earlier, sensing the rising tide against her people, Gisela Wolff and her family flee Germany aboard the passenger ship St. Louis, bound for Havana, Cuba. Gisela meets Sam Shapiro on board and the two fall quickly in love. But the ship is denied safe harbor and sent back to Europe. Thus begins Giselas perilous journey of exile and survival, made possible only by the kindness and courage of a series of strangers she meets along the way, including one man who will change the course of her life.
Giselas family becomes unsafe as Germany turns hostile toward Jewish people. They secure spots on a boat bound for Cuba, only to be turned away upon their arrival. The next few years are filled with heartbreak as WWII threatens everything Gisela holds dear.
After the war, Peggy is thrilled when her childhood best friend, Jimmy, returns home. But Jimmy is no longer the lighthearted boy she knew. Determined to help him, Peggy sets out to uncover what happened during his tour.
The book alternates between Peggy and Giselas points of view, exploring the pre- and post-war world. It is unflinching in dealing with heavy topics including antisemitism, genocide, and suicide, yet also highlights the courage and perseverance of individuals facing such horrors.
Faith plays a large role. Gisela questions her Jewish heritage, and Peggy reminds Jimmy of the scriptures he once clung to. The age-old question of how a benevolent god can allow evil is raised, answered with ideas of human responsibility and the possibility of grace that suffering brings.
Both Peggy and Gisela are strong leads, with Peggys strength lying in her compassion, and Giselas in her perseverance. Peggy spends months contacting Jimmys fellow soldiers for answers. Gisela witnesses countless horrors, first in worn-torn cities and later in a concentration camp, yet still manages to see good in the world. She helps Jimmy when he needs her, resulting in a satisfying union of the two story lines at the books end.
A masterful, heartwarming, and heartbreaking historical novel, Long Way Home contains reminders of human beings ability to do great eviland their duty to do great good.
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