Friday 31 December 2021

Letters Across the Sea

Finished December 24 
Letters Across the Sea by Genevieve Graham

This historical fiction novel takes place from the early 1930s until after World War II and revolves around two characters. Molly Ryan is the daughter of a police officer in Toronto, and her best friend is a Jewish girl the same age, Hannah Dreyfus. Both have older brothers who play league baseball. As the 1930s brought increasing prejudice against Jews, Molly is dismayed to see this appear in her own neighbourhood and among people she knows. 
Molly has been working in a local grocery store to help her family, but as the Depression worsens, she loses that job, and struggles to find another. She also grows more determined to follow her heart by taking journalism classes with the aim of becoming a reporter someday. 
Hannah is involved with a young man, and as the racial prejudice grows the girls drift apart. Her brother Max also has a goal, to become a doctor. Quotas for Jews in the program mean that he doesn't get into the University of Toronto, but he does get into a medical school and, just as he is finishing the war starts, and he enlists as a medic. 
At first, he is stationed in North America, but as things escalate in Europe and the British want a presence in Hong Kong, some Canadian soldiers are sent there. They have little combat training and don't know the small group of islands well, and are sitting ducks when the Japanese attack with more force than predicted shortly after Pearl Harbor. 
As Max tries to protect his fellow soldiers, and struggles to survive himself, Molly tries to follow what is happening in the Far East, and bring attention to it in her role as a reporter. 
This is a story that highlights a lesser known part of WWII, and the Canadians that served there. It also brings to light the racial prejudice of the time, and how media influences what people think.
A very interesting read. 

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