Home and Away: A World War II Christmas Story by Dean HughesNorma Hayes has always tried to make Christmas special for her family, but this year it is going to be difficult. Money is tight, and wartime rationing is taking its toll as well. Harder still, her oldest son, Glen, is on the front lines of the battle in Europe. Glen Hayes wants nothing more than to be home for Christmas. He holds a sprig of lavender in his pocket. The scent reminds him of his mother. The memory of home may be the only thing that is keeping him alive and sane during the horrors of war. Dennis Hayes is sixteen and longs to see his older brother again. He also longs to have a relationship with his father, but most important, Dennis is determined to buy something special for his mother this Christmas--the one gift he feels certain she deserves. So many families have had their hopes dashed in World War II. Will the Hayes family make it through?
Home and Away was a poignant reminder of the tense and traumatic times families went through during WWII. The Hayes family had not heard from Glen for a few weeks and Christmas was approaching. Their fears for their son and brother were mounting. Was he alright? Was he injured or worse? Why hadn’t they heard from him? How would he be spending his Christmas?
The vivid detail of war in the trenches brought fear for the men who fought those battles crawling up my spine. The contrast of how some of the people on American soil felt about going to war and the actual realities of war couldn’t have been made clearer. War is glorified when it’s at a distance, but it’s bloody, dirty, cold and gruesome in the trenches.
At home, Dennis learns a lot about himself, his father and his desire to follow his brother by enlisting when he turns seventeen. He works so hard to purchase that special gift for his mother, but will he be able to do it?
The twists and turns in Home and Away create the drama that makes this book so hard to put down. It will remind you that on the other side of your gun is another soldier whose mother is praying that her son comes back whole and uninjured too.
I’ve never been to war, and Home and Away assures me that I neither want to go to war or send my children to war. I thought it was an incredible read and I would highly recommend it. I gave it a rating of 5 stars out of 5.
Thank you to the publishers via NetGalley for providing a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.
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