What’s Ashley Reading?: The Last Year of the War

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

First line: I’ve a thief to thank for finding the one person I need to see before I die.

Summary: Elise Sontag, a fourteen year old girl from Iowa, has her life turned upside down when her father is arrested on the suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. Her family is sent to an internment camp in Texas where she meets her best friend, a Japanese girl named Mariko. They spend several months together before Elise’s family is deported back to Germany. In the hopes of keeping their friendship alive the two exchange letters but it is difficult with the ongoing war. However, Elise keeps up hope that after the war ends she will be able to return to America and see her best friend again.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this story. The last several books have not been as good as Secrets of a Charmed Life which was my first book I read by Susan Meissner. It is a topic that has not been talked about much and it could be because it is embarrassing but it is our history and we need to acknowledge it. And learn from it too. I cannot imagine how shocking it would be to have everything taken from you and being forced to live in basically a prison. Then to be sent back to a land that they had left or never even lived before. Especially with a war on and cities are being heavily bombed. How do you rationalize that?

The time spent in camp was actually a very small part of the book. Most of it took place in Germany after Elise’s family is repatriated. I liked listening to her story as she navigates this foreign land in wartime. She did not speak German which put her in a tight spot since the Germans were at war with America. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves a story set during World War II.

FYI: Definitely check out Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner.

Book Review: The Breakdown

The Break Down by B.A. Paris

First line: The thunder starts as we’re saying goodbye, leaving each other for the summer holidays ahead.

Summary: Cass is driving down a back road during a storm when she sees a car along the side of the road. She is scared to stop fearing that it could be dangerous. But when she finds out that the woman in the car she saw was her new friend, Jane, and that she was murdered the guilt begins to eat at her. And she cannot seem to remember little pieces of her day. With the recent loss of her mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, this is another fear to add on top of the guilt. Are the mysterious phone calls and suspicious man outside her house Jane’s killer? All this is leading Cass to a break down or is it?

Highlights: I was constantly wanting to listen/read this book. Whenever I had free time I would pick it up. I kept having to look back whenever Cass had a memory lapse to check and make sure that I was not forgetting something as well. Alzheimer’s is a scary disease, which I have personally seen with my grandmother so this hit close to home. The ending was perfect for the book. Once all the pieces fall into place and the way that Cass deals with it was exactly how I wanted it to happen.

Lowlights: Even though I loved the ending I felt like it was a little obvious. About ¾ of the way through I had a good idea what was happening but it was still rewarding to read it.

FYI: Quick and fun thriller. Definitely looking forward to reading B.A. Paris’ other book soon.