Friday, May 19, 2023

Review: Things We Didn't Say by Amy Lynn Green

Genre: Historial Fiction 
Publisher: Bethany House 
Released: Nov. 3, 2020
416 pages
About the Book:

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.

My Rating & Thoughts:    

This story is told completely through letters, newspaper articles, and trial depositions. We get the writer’s perspective of events rather than interactions between people. This is such a unique way to tell a story. At times it was a bit slow, and the chapters felt long but because of the letter style and within each chapter there were quite a few letters between characters I didn't have to wait for a chapter break to feel like it was okay to stop between chapters because once I finished a letter I could stop there. We follow Johanna who studies languages and gets hired as the translator/censor for the POW Camp in her hometown. She reluctantly returns home from college in Minneapolis to work at this camp. She is in regular correspondence with a friend who is a Japanese American language teacher, born and raised in America but whose family has been moved to an internment camp because they are Japanese. Johanna is also in regular communication with her roommate in Minneapolis, who is from England. Through the communication with these two we learn what Johanna’s day to day life is like, what the town’s attitude to the camp is and her interactions with both the POW prisoner’s spokesman and the camp director.

Johanna is a little naive about things and doesn’t take something seriously that maybe she should have, and it causes trouble for her. Then something happens to another character, and I was left wondering what happened and concerned for them. At this point I couldn't put it down. It may have started slow taking me a little while to get into it, but the further I read the more invested I became. There were two major reveals at the end that pleased me. I loved the way the story wrapped up. There is also a bit of a romance in this, but it is not a prominent storyline. The unique writing style will stick out to me. 

(I was gifted this book from a friend; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Other books from this author that I have reviewed:   


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