Thanksgiving 1942

by Alan Simon

Verdict: The story is a captivating view of a bygone era filled with patriotism and unspoken fear.

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Thanksgiving 1942 by Alan Simon follows Jonathan and Joseph Coleman and their return to Pittsburgh to spend one last Thanksgiving with their family before they are deployed during WWII.

The two brothers are about to finish pilot training with the United States Army Air Force (USAAF). This could be their last holiday together for years to come.

Like most Americans, life for Irene and Gerald Coleman and their children has changed drastically since the United States entered the war.  The neighborhood teenagers have had to grow up quickly. Boys who a year ago sat in a classroom at the local high school are now facing down the enemy on the front lines.  Some will never return home.

In light of this uncertain future, people do things they would have never done before the war, including Francine Donner, the girl Jonathan planned to marry.  Before he left for training, Francine admitted to making a horrible mistake.  Her tearful confession changed Jonathan’s mind and the engagement was called off.   He has had almost a year to rethink his actions.  Did he act hastily?  Can he forgive her?

Joseph too, longs to have a girl waiting for him back home when he ships out.  The author captures the sense of urgency faced by the brothers to live a lifetime before going “Over There”.

The story is a captivating view of a bygone era filled with patriotism and unspoken fear; a time when information is heavily censored and gained from radio programs and newsreels and romantic love is shaped by Hollywood.  But reality is harsher than what is shown at the movies.   Gerald Coleman, the boy’s father and a WWI veteran knows what war can do to a man.  He gives his sons very surprising-for-the time, counsel about sex, love and forgiveness.

Thanksgiving 1942 is the first of three sequels to Alan Simon’s book, The First Christmas of the War; however, it can be read as a stand-alone.  The Pittsburgh references are interesting for anyone familiar with the city. The characters are memorable and well worth revisiting.

Reviewed by Maureen Fajt for IndieReader

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