Sunday, September 26, 2010

While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austin

Rating: 5 Stars

I have been anticipating the release of While We’re Far Apart for a few months and the novel lived up to my expectations.  Lynn Austin delivered yet another thought-provoking, engaging, and multi-faceted novel.  Like Austin’s earlier A Woman’s Place novel, While We’re Far Apart examines the lives of several different characters during World War II, but I found this novel to be much more engrossing and moving.   Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the three main characters: Esther, a motherless 13-year-old child whose father enlists in the war; Penny, a sheltered young woman who takes a risk and volunteers to care for Esther and her younger brother Peter, and Mr. Mendel, a Jewish widower whose son and extended family are living in Hungary and experiencing the autocracies of the Nazis.  As the characters face inevitable life changes, they are forced to overcome fears, prejudices, and cruelty and confront secrets that they did not know existed.  Can they embrace these changes and trust God to see them through times of uncertainty and grief?

While I was reading the novel, I often found myself thinking that the plot would make an excellent movie.  The characters were realistic and well-developed and although the story was told from several different perspectives, the plot flowed seamlessly and the lives of the main characters tied together to create a moving and intricate snapshot of life during the tumultuous years of World War II.  I would have enjoyed a slightly longer epilogue to conclude the stories of the main characters since I found myself wondering about their lives a few years later.  I hesitate to call that a flaw, however; I believe that I wondered about the character’s futures because I began to care about them throughout the novel.  Only a talented author can create characters that readers truly care about.  That is why Lynn Austin remains one of my favorite authors! I highly, highly recommend this book.   ~M

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