Monday, April 11, 2011

WHILE WE'RE FAR APART by LYNN AUSTIN

It is 1943 and the world is at war. Everything is changing and Penny Goodrich, isn't happy with all the changes. Penny is just a young girl with a little brother and a daddy, Eddie, who is choosing to go off to war to serve. Penny lost her mother in an accident and her father just isn't the same. He feels that if he goes off to serve he can find some sort of peace in all this mess. The only other family Penny has is her grandmother. A grandmother she isn't really close to. Her daddy wants to leave Penny and her brother with her as he goes off to war. Penny finds herself terribly upset. I would be too. I couldn't understand why this man, this daddy, had to go away and leave his children. But he was missing his bride and lost in his emotions that were running deep.

Next door to Penny's, Grandmother Shaffer, lives Esther. A lonely woman, who lives with her parents still. Although she works, she is devoted in caring for her parents. Parents that haven't given her much encouragement. Only words to hold her back. But as the story unfolds you begin to understand the fear that lies in her parent's hearts. Penny has had a crush on Penny's father for as long as she can remember. He doesn't really know she is alive. In a heart's beat, Penny, offers to stay with the children while he is off to war. Her parents don't understand this decision and Penny is none to happy about it. In fact, she is downright mean to Penny.

As Esther moves in to watch the children we meet the landlord who lives down below. Mr. Mendel is Jewish. I love this part of the story. We get to see not only the Christian view, but Lynn Austin, intertwines the Jewish faith. We all need a neighbor like Mr. Mendel. He too is hurting. Every character seems to be hurting in some way. But we see all these characters grow and we see Christ come alive in each of them.

It was the title, "While We're Far Apart", that caught my attention. The cover is beautiful and the story is one that will captivate your heart. I couldn't put this book down. It was one that I just took my time with. The characters were so real and I could feel their pain. But I too rejoiced with them. If you are looking for a summer read, this one is for you. I have now become a huge fan of Lynn Austin. What a gift.

What did I love? Through this story we meet, Peter, Penny's brother. Once his daddy leaves for war he simply stops speaking. Everyone is afraid something is wrong with him, but there isn't. He is simply silent. I learned throughout these pages that sometimes we must be silent to hear. Just as others had to be patient waiting for Peter to speak, we too must be patient as we wait upon the Lord.

I am a huge fan of historical fiction. This is one that simply takes us back in time and brings to life the stories of each character that you will not soon forget.

This book was a gift from Bethany House for it's review.

Lynn Austin, a former teacher who now writes and speaks full time, has won five Christy Awards for her historical fiction. One of those novels, Hidden Places, has also been made into a Hallmark Channel movie. Lynn and her husband have raised three children and make their home near Chicago, Illinois. Visit Lynn's Web site at http://www.lynnaustin.org/
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