When We Meet Again by Kristin Harmel

When We Meet Again Book Cover When We Meet Again
Kristin Harmel
Historical Fiction
Gallery Books
June 7, 2015
Kindle E-book
384

Emily Emerson is used to being alone; her dad ran out on the family when she was a just a kid, her mom died when she was seventeen, and her beloved grandmother has just passed away as well. But when she’s laid off from her reporting job, she finds herself completely at sea…until the day she receives a beautiful, haunting painting of a young woman standing at the edge of a sugarcane field under a violet sky. That woman is recognizable as her grandmother—and the painting arrived with no identification other than a handwritten note saying, “He always loved her.”

Emily is hungry for roots and family, so she begins to dig. And as she does, she uncovers a fascinating era in American history. Her trail leads her to the POW internment camps of Florida, where German prisoners worked for American farmers...and sometimes fell in love with American women. But how does this all connect to the painting? The answer to that question will take Emily on a road that leads from the sweltering Everglades to Munich, Germany and back to the Atlanta art scene before she’s done.

Along the way, she finds herself tempted to tear down her carefully tended walls at last; she’s seeing another side of her father, and a new angle on her painful family history. But she still has secrets, ones she’s been keeping locked inside for years. Will this journey bring her the strength to confront them at last?

free copyA Love That Will Last Until We Meet Again

If I could have given this book more than five stars, I would have! Until We Meet Again is an epic love story, sweeping across generations, and across countries, while proving that true love will last through the most difficult of circumstances. Even if those circumstances include losing track of the love of your life for 70 years! It was moving, suspenseful, and inspiring…and perhaps most importantly, it was well-researched, which is something I appreciate as a history teacher!

 Until We Meet Again is interesting in part because it reveals a segment of U.S. History that isn’t often taught in schools. German POWs  were used all across the country to do manual labor and some forms of manufacturing, filling vacancies created when American men volunteered for military service,  or were drafted. Parts of the book are told from the point of view of Peter, a German POW, who falls in love with an American girl named Margaret. This perspective is seamlessly blended with that of Margaret’s granddaughter, Emily, living in our own time period. This blending of perspectives made Until We Meet Again wonderfully rich in detail and feeling, in a way that it might not have been had it been told from only one point of view.

This book is equal parts love story and historical mystery, meaning it will appeal to a wide audience. I’m even thinking of recommending it to my husband, which I mention only to illustrate the fact that although Until We Meet Again demands an emotional investment into the characters, I would not consider it to be solely aimed at women. The romantic elements of the story are tempered by the questions of how the actions of parents affect their children, creating an echo across generations, of how the ties of family bind us to those we barely know, and whether or not we are truly destined to be with a specific person.

The ending of this book made me cry real tears, of both the happy and sad variety. It’s not a beach read, but a book to pick up when you have the time to read, and ponder…to immerse yourself, and enjoy.

In short, everyone needs to read this book.

Note: POW photo credit to the Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby.

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