The Last Year of the War The Last Year of the War

The Last Year of the War

    • 4.4 • 278 Ratings
    • $12.99
    • $12.99

Publisher Description

From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and As Bright as Heaven comes a novel about a German American teenager whose life changes forever when her immigrant family is sent to an internment camp during World War II.
In 1943, Elise Sontag is a typical American teenager from Iowa—aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.
The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.
But when the Sontag family is exchanged for American prisoners behind enemy lines in Germany, Elise will face head-on the person the war desires to make of her. In that devastating crucible she must discover if she has the will to rise above prejudice and hatred and re-claim her own destiny, or disappear into the image others have cast upon her.
The Last Year of the War tells a little-known story of World War II with great resonance for our own times and challenges the very notion of who we are when who we’ve always been is called into question.

Fiction & Literature
March 19
Penguin Publishing Group

Customer Reviews

Kris Anderson, The Avid Reader ,

Dive back in time with this novel

The Last Year of the War has an interesting premise about families interned in a camp during World War II. I like that we get to experience it from a young girl’s perspective. Elise and Mariko were both born in the United States. They enjoy the latest music, going to the movies, chatting with their girlfriends and eating Twinkies. Suddenly, their lives are forever changed. They are taken away from their homes, their friends and extended family and thrust into a new world. They live in small apartments without showering facilities, but there are shops, vegetable gardens, different types of schools, a pool and other amenities. They have everything they need except the freedom to leave. I found it intriguing to learn the details of internment camps (information not included in history class). We get to see how people’s lives changed overnight and how they had no control over their future. I found The Last Year of the War to be well-written with developed characters. I did find the pace to be on the slow side. The story alternates between 2010 and the past. Just when you get involved in the past, we jump back to the present (and vice versa). It was a little disconcerting. I would then have to remember where we left off in the past and what had happened. When I finished the story, though, I could see why the author laid it out in this manner. The author captured the time period especially with her descriptions of the devastation in Germany. I can tell that she did her research for this novel (very evident). I especially appreciated the information she included at the end of the book (author’s note). I wish there had been more emotion in the story. That is the one thing it lacked. The Last Year of the War is a good book, but it is not my favorite by this author (Lady in Waiting and The Shape of Mercy are two of my favorites). I am giving The Last Year of the War 4 out of 5 stars. Those readers who love historical fiction will find The Last Year of the War to be a compelling novel. The Last Year of the War is a story of hope, friendship, promises and staying true to ourselves.

74tt1 ,

Beautiful and Tragic

A beautiful story of the ties that bind best friends against the backdrop of some of the most regrettable things in history.

writerpaintermusician ,

The Last Year of the War

Interesting premise of Internment camps in America in WWII as a basis for lifelong friendships. Historical fiction that drew me into the whole story.

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