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A Battle for Love in the Midst of WWII - an Editorial Review of "Hearts at War"

Book Blurb:

WINNER - 2023 BookFest, 2nd Place for Historical Romance

Set against the backdrop of World War II, Betty and Tosh's childhood friendship in 1930s Southern California blooms into something more as they navigate the complexities of love, family, and societal expectations. Betty, a spirited tomboy from an established family, and Tosh, the son of Japanese immigrants who work as farmers, find themselves drawn to each other despite the disapproval of their families and society.

As they begin college, their relationship remains unresolved, and they go their separate ways. But the attack on Pearl Harbor changes everything. Tosh and his family are sent to an internment camp. Tosh decides to enlist in the military due to his love of his country despite his belief that his family’s internment and that of the thousands of others is unconstitutional. Meanwhile, inspired by Tosh's loyalty, Betty volunteers for the Women's Army Corps.

Tosh undergoes training for a top-secret military program as an interrogator and translator, while Betty becomes part of the Signal Corps. Fate reunites them in Brisbane, Australia, where they finally acknowledge their feelings and find hope for a future together. However, the harsh realities of war and life tear them apart once again.

Betty and Tosh will face challenges, including family disapproval and societal norms. Will they be able to find each other again and follow their hearts, even if it means defying expectations, or will external pressures keep them apart forever?

A poignant tale of love, courage, and resilience, this historical fiction novel transports readers to a tumultuous era where the battle for love is as fierce as the war waged on the battlefield.

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Author Bio:

Christa Nonnemaker has been a History and Social Science secondary-level teacher for many years. She holds a B.A. in History from UCLA and an M.A. in American History from Stanford University. In addition to her role as a secondary school teacher, Christa designs social studies curriculum. She has presented at conferences such as the National Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference and the National Women's Studies Association Conference. Christa has also served as an AP Reader for AP United States History and AP World History for the College Board. Hearts at War, her first novel, is the result of Christa's pursuit to shed light on an unknown and significant issue in American history.

Editorial Review:

Betty stood up, feeling dazed and disoriented. She blinked, trying to clear her head from the throbbing that lingered after her fall. Her arm still tingled from where she had handled, and a burning sensation on her leg drew her attention to a small scrape near her ankle. She looked down at her overalls and noticed the dirt and grass stains on them along with the earthy scents that wafted upward. Her heart sank as she considered the inevitable disappointment her mother would express.

From the very first lines, we are drawn in with colorful, expressive language. I was taken back to my childhood days of playing in the woods or along the creek and how my grandmother would lecture me if I got my clothes dirty or scraped my knees. It’s Spring of 1928, but the author transports us back in time, directly beside Betty as she thinks of her mother’s disapproval over her dirty clothes. We feel anxiety with her as she thinks of her mother’s stern voice and disappointed gaze.

Nonnemaker’s “Hearts at War” takes us on a journey through the turbulent years of World War II, and gives us a moving story of love, bravery, and resilience. Even in the midst of hard wartime conditions, criticism from family, and societal expectations, two individuals explore their bond, as their lives become intertwined in very unexpected ways.

From the very start, this novel has a compelling storyline that draws you in. "Hearts at War" immerses readers in Betty and Tosh's life against the backdrop of World War II. Nonnemaker crafts a story that compels the reader to turn the pages as she deftly negotiates the complications of love, family, and society expectations. The characters' depth of emotion and the difficulties they encounter add to the plot's overall complexity.

Fall 1935 – Tosh went to Japan for the last year of middle school, a decision that filled Betty’s heart with a mixture of sadness and longing. Tosh sent her two postcards over the year, and Betty eagerly read each one, savoring the information he shared. She responded to both letters describing what was happening at their school and asking him questions about his life there.

But when Tosh returned the following summer, they both started high school in the fall, and their paths crossed far less frequently. It seemed like life had taken them in different directions. Their schedules no longer aligned, and their interactions became sporadic.

The realness and relatability of the characters is another strong suit of this story. All of us have felt the distance grow between us and someone we were once close to before, and it’s easy to relate to Betty during this time, for example. Betty and Tosh each go through significant growth throughout the novel, moving from childhood friends to adults who have been shaped by the challenges of war.

Nonnemaker does a great job of showing this, diving deep into their fears, motivations, aspirations and more, giving us characters that feel real and relatable. The supporting characters are also well crafted, contributing to the overall richness of the narrative and playing a role in the journey of our main characters.

The book is also very well edited, providing a seamless reading experience and no mistakes that pull you out of the story. We’re able to fully immerse ourselves in the story without jarring errors. The formatting is done well, and the layout of events is crisp and clear. We see as we’re moving from one point in time to another so it’s easy to follow the story.

The story is kept cohesively throughout, with smooth changes between Betty and Tosh's various life stages. Nonnemaker skillfully combines all the story's components, making for a seamless and interesting read. The protagonists' personal narratives are blended with the historical backdrop to provide a complex picture of the difficulties they encounter during this turbulent time.

“Why are you glowing, Daisy?” Betty eyed her speculatively.

“I’m on cloud nine. Bill just gave me a promise ring!” Daisy extended her hand to show Betty the gold ring with a small diamond on it. “Maybe we’ll be married by next year!”

“Congratulations, Daisy!” Betty said, pulling her best friend into a tight hug. “I’m so happy for you!”

Daisy beamed with excitement, her eyes shining. “Thanks, Bett! I can’t believe it’s finally happening. I’ve been dreaming of this day for so long!”

Betty couldn’t help but smile, but her thoughts were swirling. She remembered all the times when she and Daisy were younger, playing make-believe weddings and planning for their futures. Daisy had always had elaborate visions of her wedding day while Betty listened and supported her friend’s dreams.

The dialogue in the story is also well written, and each scene is crafted to help us learn more about the characters. We learn much about Betty and her own aspirations and feelings when we see how she interacts with her best friend, Daisy, for example. We can also see that Daisy and Betty have very different ideas for what they want in life and from their futures. This helps us to understand Betty better.

Nonnemaker writes in an elegant and vivid style, demonstrating an impeccable literary technique. Because of the author's meticulous attention to detail, readers are able to clearly visualize Betty and Tosh's experiences during the war as well as the milieu of 1930s Southern California. The conversation is genuine and organic, which heightens the story's immersive element.

"Hearts at War" has a clearly defined and skillfully carried out story arc. The story takes an interesting turn from Betty and Tosh's budding childhood friendship to the difficulties they encounter during the war. Their relationship's highs and lows help to illuminate love and sacrifice in a complex way, which elevates the plot arc to a notable level in the book.

That caused the soldiers to quiet down. Tosh didn’t remember this kind of conflict at Camp Savage between the guys from Hawaii and the mainland. That’s probably because the troops were in survival mode, and no one had time to do much else but study all hours of the day and night during the week. When they went out on weekends, usually they separated into different groups. But now, just the sheer number of soldiers on base and their general fatigue from training made everyone a bit touchy.

"Hearts at War" is notable for its distinct fusion of romance, historical fiction, and examination of social conventions. With the backdrop of World War II, the book examines themes of love and resiliency while providing a new angle on a well-known historical era. The novel stands out in its category because of Nonnemaker's particular voice and storytelling approach.

To conclude, "Hearts at War" by Christa Nonnemaker is a superbly written historical fiction book that goes beyond the expectations of the genre. This work offers a rich and immersive reading experience because of its excellent writing skill, well-developed characters, and captivating plot. "Hearts at War" is a gripping and profoundly emotional book for readers who value a stirring story of love and fortitude set against the backdrop of World War II.


“Hearts at War” by Christa Nonnemaker receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company



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1 comentario

Congratulations Christa on the award!

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