Book Beat - While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austin

This has been a good year for those who love fiction set during World War II. Lynn Austin, one of the premier writers of Christian historical fiction turns to the American Home Front in While We're Far Apart.

Twelve-year old Esther Shaffer is furious with her father for enlisting in the Army soon after the death of her mother, especially since her little brother, Peter, has suddenly gone mute, and she has to put up with boring Penny Goodrich as her caretaker. Penny has secretly loved Esther's father all her life, and she hopes taking care of his children will cause him to return her love - and it allows her to get away from her overprotective and manipulative parents. The Shaffers' landlord, Jacob Mendel, is angry at God for the death of his wife and the disappearance of his only son in Nazi-occupied Hungary - and shaken by how Esther and Peter insert themselves into his life.

As these people become unlikely friends, secrets are revealed, hearts are opened, and lives are changed. This is a lovely story with compelling characters, filled with detail about life on the Home Front. Jacob Mendel's storyline shows how anti-Semitism was alive and ugly in America as well as in Europe. I highly recommend this novel, even if World War II is not your favorite time period.

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