Wait For Me
YA/adult historical fiction
"Iris smiled at Lorna, as if that should have been obvious, and
Lorna's heart sank. She loved Iris dearly, but the chances of Iris
keeping her mouth shut about this lay somewhere between slim and
none. And once William knew, then his mother would know, and his
father, and on and on how far? Who else would be invited to judge and
She and Paul had shared only one kiss, but suddenly Lorna knew
that the whole world--or at least her whole world--would soon be
determined to make sure they would never share another."
I give Caroline Leech's Wait for Me my hybrid readership
category for a special reason. Nothing in language or content pushes
the envelope. This poignant coming of age novel has a lot to offer
not-as-young adults as well as its target demographic. I suspect it is
one of those rare books like To Kill A Mockingbird that holds new
insights each time for those who read it more than once. I certainly
plan to revisit it in the future.
Lorna lives with her father on a farm in Scotland. Her two
older brothers, John Jo and Sandy, are away, fighting in World War
II. Nellie, a member of the Women's Land Army, a group filling in on
farms for absent family members and workers, is taking up some of the
slack, but, with Lorna still in school, more help is needed.
One morning an Army truck pulls into Lorna's yard. A new
worker, a German prisoner of war has arrived. Half his face has been
scarred with burns. Her father has let the enemy onto their farm!
Lorna is sure she'll never be in the least attracted to Paul.
He is a German after all. That is before they begin to talk. They
have each lost a parent. They both worry about loved ones in the
danger zone--his mother and little sister, her brothers.
"...And it was strange, the more they'd talked the evening
before--and his English had improved in the month since he'd arrived--
the less German he became. Or not less German, exactly, but more like
any of the normal boys, the Scottish boys, she knew at school. Lorna
didn't know what to make of that. He was not like she had expected
the enemy to be at all. In fact, she was beginning to realize that he
might not be so very different from her."
[I interrupt this review to bring you an unpaid sociological
message. Recall not so long ago I reviewed Four-Four-Two, a YA novel
set in that same war? The protagonist made this comment after seeing
a dead enemy soldier, "...Nations didn't go to war. Men did. Boys
did. The trouble was, defending his friends meant killing the boys
from some other nation: boys he actually had nothing against..."
This is the aspect of drone warfare that scares me the most,
especially at a time when the proportion of civilian "collateral
damage" is increasing rapidly. Drone warfare takes away the
possibility of the discovery of the humanity of the "enemy".]
I now bring you back to your regular scheduled review.
The respectful love that develops between Lorna and Paul is
contrasted with a near rape experience Lorna has at a dance held at a
local Air Force base. Ed, the soldier she is paired up with, becomes
very drunk and laces her lemonade. She has to physically fight him
off to prevent him from sexually abusing her. Later, as her best
friend's boyfriend, William, reveals her relationship and people
react, she muses,
"Would everyone react to her like this from now on? What if she
had drunkenly kissed the American, if she'd allowed Ed to do what he
wanted? Would that have been more palatable for Mrs. Urquhart
[William's despicable mother] than a sober and chaste--almost chaste--
kiss with a kind and caring German? Perhaps it would."
Although the characters are fictitious, the situation isn't.
The humanizing practice of placing prisoners of war on local farms to
many friendships and some love stories did happen in real life. Leech
received the following email:
"My father was a POW in Gosford and worked on a local farm. He
met and married my mum in 1948 while still officially a POW, and they
celebrated their diamond wedding in 2008. Sadly, Mum died in 2013,
but my dad is now ninety and still very much alive.
[Your] story could have been about them, and I just wanted to
let you know that they had a very happy life together."
Now don't you want to get your hands on a copy of Wait For Me?
You'll be very glad if you do so. :)
On a personal note, I won't be starting grad school this September.
It was a glitch, nobody's fault. I'd been told the grad school would
automatically contact my references. By the time I learned this would
only be true if I'd filed electronically and contacted my references I
was too late. On the bright side, they're holding on to my now
complete resume and I've beat the deadline for 2018 by six months.
Plus I have a year to get even more ready.
A great big shout goes out to all who believe in my ability to achieve
my dream and my husband who pays the bills and buys the food even as
he probably privately questions my sanity for wanting to go back to
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