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The Last Year of the War

Narrated by: Kimberly Farr
Length: 16 hrs and 37 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (54 ratings)

Regular price: $35.00

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Publisher's Summary

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.

Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa 14-year-old in 1943 - aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal US 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 reclaim 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.

©2019 Susan Meissner (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Meissner has created a quietly devastating story that shows how fear and hatred during World War II changed (and even ended) the lives of many innocent Americans.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Powerful and at times chillingly contemporary, and it reminds us why we read historical fiction in the first place.” (Michelle Gable, New York Times best-selling author of A Paris Apartment

“A beautifully poignant tale, The Last Year of the War explores the complexities of love, friendship, and the fleeting truths of identity. With vividly drawn characters and ever-elegant prose, Meissner highlights a dark, often-overlooked piece of American history. This timely novel will stay with the reader long after its thoughtful, heartwarming conclusion.” (Kristina McMorris, New York Times best-selling author of Sold on a Monday

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Historical Fiction at its Best!<br />

Susan Meissner's latest book does not disappoint. Wonderful storyline and narration. You see the second World War from the perspective of the children of those ethnic groups deemed "enemies" of America and sent to a detention camp in Texas. Told through the eyes of Elise, born in Iowa to German parents, and her friendship with Mariko, a Japanese American girl who she met while they were both in the camp in Texas. Starts in present day, 82 year old Elise begins her search for Mariko.....through her search we hear her memories and gradually piece together their stories and the power of friendship. As always, through reading historical fiction, I learn so much more history that I did not know. If you enjoy historical fiction then this one is for you. Highly recommend.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Drew me in and kept me there throughout

I loved this book! I never really knew much about the internment camps, only that they existed. I never knew that German Americans were interned in addition to Japanese Americans. I never really considered what life would have been like in those camps or after having been sent back to Germany or Japan while the war was still on. This book provided a great opportunity for reflection and for learning about what went on right here in America during WW2 that was only mentioned in a few sentences in our high school history books in the 1980's...