Monday, February 27, 2017

War, Spies, and Bobby Sox:Stories About World War II at Home, by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Red Herrings Press, February 2017

Two novellas and a short story about World War II at home in America.

The first novella follows a German Jewish immigrant to the US during the beginnings of the war in Europe. She arrives as a teenager, becomes a secretary in a university mathematics department, and meets a young German physicist.

And this leads to at least two different sides attempting to recruit her as a spy, and her painful choices about what to do about it.

The second is about a young woman on a midwestern American farm during the war, and a contingent of German prisoners of war sent to work on the farm--labor that's badly needed because so many of the American men are away at the war. Not every German prisoner has accepted that the war is over for them.

The short story concerns Jewish young men in Chicago during what for the US are still the prewar years, gangsters, an actress is Jewish theater, and, maybe, German spies.

They all reflect aspects of the war that get less attention, not the big battles in Europe and the Pacific, but the (relatively) ordinary, daily struggles of the war at home, with hardships, challenges, and decisions less dramatic than armed combat, but sometimes equally difficult. These are all very human stories, that pull you into the lives of individuals it's easy to overlook. Hellmann makes them real, interesting, and compelling.

Highly recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the author and am reviewing it voluntarily.