by Susan Meissner
Narrator: Kimberly Farr
Length: 16 hours and 37 minutes
Genres: Historical Fiction
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Narration: 5 cups Speed: 1.2x
From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and As Bright as Heaven comes a novel about a German American teenager whose life changes forever when her immigrant family is sent to an internment camp during World War II.
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.
But when the Sontag family is exchanged for American prisoners behind enemy lines in Germany, Elise will face head-on the person the war desires to make of her. In that devastating crucible she must discover if she has the will to rise above prejudice and hatred and re-claim her own destiny, or disappear into the image others have cast upon her.
The Last Year of the War tells a little-known story of World War II with great resonance for our own times and challenges the very notion of who we are when who we’ve always been is called into question.
The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner was a poignant, powerful story that shared friendship as it shined a light on American internment camps during World War II. Narrated by Kimberly Farr I found myself immersed in the stories of Elise Sontag and Mariko Inoue.
What a beautiful story, despite the ugliness of war. We meet Elise Sontag, in the advanced years of her life when she is first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Her thoughts soon turn to the memories of her childhood friend, Mariko Inoue. Through a stroke of luck, Elise sets off to find her friend. As she begins her search we the listener hear their story.
Elise transports us to her youth. Here we bear witness to events as they unfolded in 1943 through her. Elise’s world is turned upside down. She is a fourteen-year-olds American of German descent who loves her home, family and friends. Her parents are both, legal U.S. residents and have been for nearly two decades. Their world crumbles when her father is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer.
Meanwhile in California, Mariko Inoue who lives with her parents and siblings in Little Tokyo. We gain Mariko’s perspective as she too witnesses her father being arrested after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Mariko and her family are ordered to pack up only what they can carry. They are being sent to an internment camp.
The author did a wonderful job conveying the families emotions, neighbors reactions and the tension felt throughout the world during these troubling time. I loved the blending of historic details and sentiments of the people.
Both Elise and Mariko’s families end up in a family camp, where German and Japanese family’s are housed behind wire fencing. Here the two become friends despite the racial tension.
The tale that unfolds was as beautiful as it was painful. Meissner through Elise’s POV and Mariko’s shared the tension of the time, the frustration their families felt and the ugly hatred brought on by fear. Yet despite that, the two young girls find friendship and dream of the future.
Before their stories are complete we will travel to worn torn Europe, suffer losses and wrap ourselves in the everlasting bonds of friendship.
I laughed and I cried as Meissner gave face and heart to the events that unfolded. The audio was narrated by Kimberly Farr. I felt she did a splendid job giving voice to each of the characters. I have no idea if her German or Japanese was accurate, but it felt authentic.
This period is one of my favorites to read about both in fiction and non-fiction. I especially enjoy when an author takes facts and breathes life into them with fictional characters.
While, The Last Year of the War made me cry, it also made me laugh and clutch my fists in anger. I love when I become completely connected emotionally with a story. The story ended on a high note. One that made me laugh aloud.The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner made me cry, but it also made me laugh and clutch my fists in anger. #HistoricalFiction #loveaudiobooks #2019FAV Click To Tweet