Welcome to my stop on the blog tour celebrating the release of The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner! Thank you to Berkley Publishing for the invitation! Stay tuned for information on how to win a copy of Meissner’s As Bright as Heaven, now available in paperback, at the bottom of this post!

About the Book:

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.

My Thoughts:

Elise Sontag is a fourteen-year-old growing up in Iowa in the early 1940s. The war is in full swing, and she knows it, but she feels safe because of her distance from it. 

Elise’s father is an immigrant to the United States, living in the country for over twenty years, when he is arrested for being a Nazi sympathizer. 

The family is moved to an interment camp in Texas where they live like prisoners. Elise has lost everything she held close and even who she is. 

Elise makes a friend at camp, though. Mariko is a Japanese-American teen who helps Elise realize that one day they’ll be free again. Elise and Mariko forge a bond that helps them both survive daily life at camp. 

The Last Year of the War is a story of family, hope, forgiveness, strength, and determination. All along I rooted for Elise and Mariko to not give up and what strength of character they each showed. 

Elise is a formidable teen, one to champion and admire. I found her story compelling, and I’m so grateful I read it. 

I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own. 

About the Author:

Susan Meissner was born in San Diego, California, the second of three. She spent her childhood in just two houses. Her first writings are a laughable collection of oddly worded poems and predictable stories she wrote when she was eight.

She attended Point Loma College in San Diego, and married her husband, Bob, who is now an associate pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, in 1980. When she is not working on a new novel, she is directing the small groups ministries at The Church at Rancho Bernardo. She also enjoy teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, spending time with my family, music, reading great books, and traveling.

***Book Giveaway***

For a chance to win a paperback copy of As Bright as Heaven (see synopsis below), please visit my instagram page!  Giveaway generously sponsored by the publisher. 

Synopsis of As Bright as Heaven:

From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean comes a new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love.

In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters–Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa–a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without–and what they are willing to do about it.

As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world, not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

Have you read The Last Year of the War, or is it on your TBR? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR