Review: “With Love, Wherever You Are” by Dandi Daley Mackall

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Bonus trivia: That’s a photo of the real-life Helen and Frank on the cover!

This book review features a book that is as interesting as it is riveting because much of the story is based on the true-life events of a couple who met, married, and served in Europe during WWII. The book, With Love, Wherever You Are, by Dandi Daley Mackall, is a recent release from Tyndale House.

About the BookEveryone knows that war romances never last . . .
After a whirlwind romance and wedding, Helen Eberhart Daley, an army nurse, and Lieutenant Frank Daley, M.D. are sent to the front lines of Europe with only letters to connect them for months at a time.

Surrounded by danger and desperately wounded patients, they soon find that only the war seems real—and their marriage more and more like a distant dream. If they make it through the war, will their marriage survive?

Based on the incredible true love story, With Love, Wherever You Are is an adult novel from beloved children’s author Dandi Daley Mackall.Review

“Based on a true story”, “WWII era”, and “letters” were all I needed to know I really wanted to read this novel. With flowing style, intriguing settings around the US and the war theater of Europe, and a love story that transcends all kinds of obstacles, this book kept me hooked late into the night.

For starters, this book is based on the real life love story of the author’s parents. While some elements and characters were understandably fictionalized for heightened story tension, the personalities of Frank and Helen clearly shine through as observed by Dandi, their daughter. Fast forwarding to the end and the author’s note section, readers learn what parts of the story are identical to the real-life situation– and those were the most incredibly interesting elements of the story!

I was impressed with the contrasting humor and wit of the relationship between Frank and Helen compared to the dramatic responsibilities, convictions, and events depicted in the book. To quote an author friend, I felt like I was reading the script of a Cary Grant movie sometimes! These personalities really come out in the real-life letters, notes, telegrams, etc. included all throughout the novel—they were a treat!

The pain and destruction of World War II was not shied away from, yet a lens of eternal hope was applied to the gravity of loss experienced by the world. In the middle of it all, this beautiful romance and subsequent relationship was formed, tested by fire, and proved a lasting legacy for Dandi and a story of inspiration to me. It reminded me of the individual sacrifice many men and women have made for their countries. It made me all the more thankful for the generations, past and present, who have held strong to liberty and freedom. Veterans, I thank you.

If you are a fan of history, WWII/military fiction, (slightly) epistolary novels, or romance, I highly recommend this book.

Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for the complimentary review copy. This is my honest review.

What is your favorite book with letters or your favorite WWII novel?

 

Review: “Saving Amelie” by Cathy Gohlke

The best books leave you satisfied with the conclusion, but still wanting a little bit more of the characters when the last page is read. The latest novel from Cathy Gohlke, Saving Amelie, is like that. It’s an exciting, heart pounding – and often heart wrenching – story set in Germany during World War II.

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Rachel Kramer, adopted daughter of a prestigious genetics researcher, returns to Berlin with her father in 1939 to find it much changed from her growing-up years. At first naïve and preoccupied, she takes little notice of the presence of SS Officers, Adolf Hitler’s “supermen”, and their impending threat to the citizens of Germany. When a childhood friend reaches out to Rachel for help in saving her daughter Amelie, deaf since birth, Rachel begins to realize the true plans of the Nazis and her father’s entangled involvement with them. Hitler wishes to rid the world of anyone with a disability, such as Amelie, and others he declares unfit by ghastly means. As she uncovers the secrets of her father’s research, Rachel realizes the threat of the Nazis and the power they have over the unsuspecting German people.

Jason Young, an American reporter stationed in Berlin, is waiting for his big break with a first rate news story. After meeting Rachel Kramer and helping her solve some of the puzzling facts about her biological family, he becomes the only person she can turn to to rescue Amelie and help her flee a frightening new realty that is closing in fast. When more secrets come to light, Rachel must find a place to hide while evading the SS officers desperately searching for her.

Rachel and Jason’s characters both grow and mature as a result of their circumstances and the people around them. As Jason questions his motives in helping Rachel, he discovers the meaning of sacrifice and selflessness, and the possibilities of faith in God. When Rachel’s life suddenly changes, she goes through a time of disappointment and unhappiness. However, her character begins to find new hope, even in the midst of her trials, because of the love and care of the people around her.

Gohlke conveys the emotions of the characters effectively through her writing style. The reader experiences the terrors and heartache of the wartorn time, and is caught, as the characters are, right in the middle of the action. With small glimpses into the supporting characters’ journeys along the way, the reader is privy to more than just the viewpoints of the main characters. Additionally, small bits of the characters’ personalities, habits, and mannerisms are well-placed, aiding in making the characters realistic.

Numerous historical facts are woven into this story, with some characters or their actions modeled after real people. There are great examples of people helping each other, in small ways, doing whatever they can to help bear the burden and plight of their people. German Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a renowned theologian who spoke out against Nazi persecution, even makes a few appearances in the story. These characters reinforce the strength of setting Gohlke establishes, engrossing the reader in WWII Germany, in a time of food rations, blackouts, confiscation of personal property, and genocide.

Saving Amelie communicates an important message through the journeys of Rachel, Jason, Amelie, and others. Through these struggling characters’ stories, the reader sees that God loves everyone, even through uncertainty and trails. His strength is there, even when His children are weak and powerless. Sacrifice is a decision. As the characters experience firsthand, it is often easier to turn one’s back on the suffering and wrongs of this world – but that is not what Jesus did. He sacrificed the ultimate price because of his love, providing this “costly grace” freely to any who would believe.

Note: Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., for the complimentary ARC copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Learn more about author Cathy Gohlke and her books at her website.