Things We Didn't Say
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date November 3, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: Minnesota World War II Era - 1939 - 1946
Main Character Ages: 18-24, 25-34
Written for: Adults
Headstrong Johanna Berglund, a linguistics student at the University of Minnesota, has very definite plans for her future . . . plans that do not include returning to her hometown and the secrets and heartaches she left behind there. But the US Army wants her to work as a translator at a nearby camp for German POWs.
Johanna arrives to find the once-sleepy town exploding with hostility. Most patriotic citizens want nothing to do with German soldiers laboring in their fields, and they're not afraid to criticize those who work at the camp as well. When Johanna describes the trouble to her friend Peter Ito, a language instructor at a school for military intelligence officers, he encourages her to give the town that rejected her a second chance.
As Johanna interacts with the men of the camp and censors their letters home, she begins to see the prisoners in a more sympathetic light. But advocating for better treatment makes her enemies in the community, especially when charismatic German spokesman Stefan Werner begins to show interest in Johanna and her work. The longer Johanna wages her home-front battle, the more the lines between compassion and treason become blurred--and it's no longer clear whom she can trust.
I would like to thank Netgalley for giving me a copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
Dear Amy Lynn Green,
I just finished reading Things We Didn’t Say and several adjectives are floating through my mind. Spectacular! Fabulous! Marvelous!
Each of these descriptions might sound over the top, yet how else can I describe a story that touched my heart, mind, and soul as yours has?
I have read other epistolary stories in the past but was not very impressed. I don’t recall knowing before reading that you had chosen this style. When I first realized it, I panicked slightly! However, I quickly saw there was nothing to worry about as I was so quickly captivated by this lovely story.
In between laughing and tearing up, I was pondering the circumstances of your characters. A town asked to provide work for the enemy who killed many of her sons. And being expected to treat them humanely despite knowing the same courtesy wasn’t extended to prisoners of war their country had taken. The second-generation Japanese man asked to help teach the country that sent his family to an internment camp. When he wrote of his experience after the bombing of Pearl Harbor at the hands of fellow Americans, my heart broke!
Jo was wonderful! I so enjoyed her quirky character and the way she came to life through her letters. It was evident that the people of her town had hurt her deeply and I was driven to read on to understand how. And why. Oh, and I simply had to find out why she was on trial for treason!
Despite her “prickly” nature, she truly was kind. Her fiery response to the townspeople when they were so reluctant to show anything other than hatred to the German prisoners revealed her tender heart. She truly turned her world upside down, didn’t she!
My heart was touched by Jo’s feelings of abandonment by God. What a tremendous friend and inspiration Peter was as he encouraged her in her faith. Or perhaps more accurately, her lack of faith. Her struggles throughout the story were so similar to those of people I know and it made me so glad for her to finally see that even when she wasn’t aware of it, God was right there all along!
Her parents, her friends (all two of them!), and the people whose lives intersected hers are so real to me now. It was very clever how you presented the collection of writings from so many sources. The way you made them reflect the personalities of their authors was amazing! I think I could have known who had written each one without their signatures after a while.
Things We Didn’t Say is one of the best stories I have read by a debut author, and one of the best stories I have read. Ever. I know it will remain in my mind and my heart for a good while to come.
I am eagerly awaiting another story from you!
Your newest fan,