That would be me and World War II.
I had a very long and wonderful relationship with WWII that went back and forth between the American Home Front and the French Resistance. This summer I found myself loving this place in history once again with a renewed fervor.
Here are some of the books I've loved in the past few years that have influenced this love immensely:
1. Walk Gently This Good Earth, by Margaret Craven (young adult to adult)
This book begins the story with the Westcott family in the 1930s and takes them through WWII with all the sentimental heartache I've ever felt for it. Margaret Craven captures the whole century and the changing of times so well you wish it had never changed and you could go back to the way things were.
2. A Life in Secrets, Sarah Helm (adult non-fiction)
Positively everything I've ever wanted to know about the Special Operations Executive and the French Resistance is in this book. And it's also about Vera Atkins who did have a fascinating life tied in secrets that left me wondering, very sincerely, if all the secrets were worth it. It also tells the stories of many amazing women who became agents for the SOE and gave their lives for England.
3. Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein (mature young adult to adult)
Women pilots during WWII, the French Resistance, SOE agents, Nazi commandants, and planes. Also educated me greatly on this area of the war! And I'm sure the author read A Life in Secrets because I saw some amazing parallels and similarities between them both.
4. Rose Under Fire, Elizabeth Wein (mature young adult to adult)
Is the second in the series after CNV, but it's about Rose who is captured by Germans while ferrying a plane. A very realistic, inside look at what Nazi concentration camps were like, and the PTSD aftereffects. I've always felt any true portrayal of concentration camps needed to include the aftereffects of being in such a place for a lengthy period of time, as well as what it was like inside. Rose Under Fire does both.
5. On the Wings of Heroes, by Richard Peck (young adult to adult)
If ever there was anything more WWII home front quintessential it's this book. Richard Peck just captures the essence of a time period whatever he writes. Delightful and heart breaking, I found myself clinging to the barest detail in this book because I wanted to take, to the fullest advantage, anything I could of what the time period was really like.
6. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne (mature young adult to adult)
Very sensitive and harsh, heart breaking look at the life of concentration camp commandant's son and a Jewish boy inside the fences of Auschwitz. A poignant and horrible look from a child's perspective at the atrocities. I think this book is important. Not only because when the boys look at each other they see no differences, but because Bruno see's the contradictions in his father's life.
7. I'll Be Seeing You Songbook: 51 Songs of WWII, Hal Leonard
My favorite songs are: I'll Be Seeing You, The White Cliffs of Dover, What Do You Do in the Infantry, Berkeley Square, When the Lights Go on Again, and I'll Be Home for Christmas. Takes me right off into a world I've never lived and yet lived a thousand times and more.
8. We Pulled Together--And Won! Reminiscent Magazine (non-fiction)
A collection of stories from readers of Reminiscent Magazine, stories from their parents, stories from the people who actually lived WWII, covering everything from Pearl Harbor to VJ Day. Filled with pictures, too!
9. The Heart Mender, Andy Andrews (adult)
The true story of an American woman who lost her husband in WWII, rescued a German submariner and falls in love with him. A story about healing and forgiveness.
10. Sophie Scholl, Frank McDonough (adult non-fiction)
The true story of a young college girl from Germany and her brother who defied Hitler. Sophie Scholl, a quiet, intelligent girl was not afraid to die for the true Germany. The acts of bravery of a girl my own age, in defying a powerful tyrant, inspired me, to say the least, and prompted me to never simply go with the majority because it was the majority. If I had to choose a heroine, one of them would be would be Sophie Scholl.
11. The Great Escape, by Paul Brickhill (adult non-fiction)
I'm a fan of the movie, but I really enjoyed this deeper look into the lives of the true men and masterminds of escape. It goes into much more detail about the life in the camp and the escape itself.
12. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak (mature young adult to adult)
One woman told a story that when she finished reading this book, she laid down on her couch and cried her eyes out. When her husband found her he thought a family member had died. This pretty much sums up how it felt to read this entire book. Written from the viewpoint of Death it tells the story of Liesel a young German girl in Munich and the effects of Nazism. Death is an eloquent and very poignant narrator.
13. The Story of the von Trapps, Maria von Trapp (young adult to adult)
I loved this true story of the von Trapp family. I loved the many children, I loved Maria, I loved following their journey, and the Captain. Maria goes into much more depth about where their lives lead than the movie does.
14. I Am David, by Anne Holm (young adult to adult)
It's been many years since I read this book, but I love this tale of escape and homecoming. It's actually set in the years after WWII, but the ties to it are still binding. David has lived the last five years of his life in a prison camp in Bulgaria. But when David is threatened with replacement in another camp, the commandant helps him to escape. The movie of the same name is an excellent adaption.
So now, my friends, it is your turn to go off and love the courageous acts of bravery and heroism of WWII, to pass them on to your children and to make sure they are never forgotten.
What are are some of your favorite WWII books? What's your favorite time in history?