Saturday, 13 June 2009

A Sense of Guilt

Finished June 13
Inside the Whale by Jennie Rooney
This book is told in alternating voices by Michael and Stevie. Both were young adults at the time of World War II and are looking back at their lives and how their choices affected where they ended up.
Michael was a quiet young man, a follower rather than a leader, and an incident early in his war experience left him feeling a large sense of guilt. Michael feels he should be punished for what happened, despite the fact that he didn't do it intentionally. When he isn't punished, he finds a way to punish himself. After the war, when he learns what his actions have meant to others, he must live with the outcome. He chooses a life that is spent following the life he didn't choose.
Stevie was an exuberant young woman, working at the local peanut factory and enjoying her life as it unfolds. When her young man goes off to war, she intends to wait for him. Circumstances during the war change her direction, and she ends up working in the offices of the Ministry of Labour. When her young man pushes her away, she makes the choices she must for the sake of her family, and ends up marrying another young man at the war's end. As she reflects on her life and the events that led to her current situation, living with her daughter and granddaughter, she learns that life has brought her much that she is glad of.
This is a story about people and choices and while not fast-moving, it is very engaging and I felt a sympathy for both characters.

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