Things We Didn’t Say

Amy Lynn Green. Bethany, $15.99 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-0-7642-3761-4
Green debuts with an enthralling epistolary tale revolving around a WWII-era treason trial. Johanna Berglund is studying linguistics at the University of Minnesota when her funding is threatened to be withdrawn if she doesn’t accept a job as a translator for a German POW camp in her hometown. As Johanna is the daughter of the mayor, it’s hoped she can help assuage locals’ anger about the presence of Germans in town. Johanna’s forced return, however, results in her own resentment and animosity toward those who hold her career captive in a place she no longer considers home. Soon she begins advocating for better living conditions for the prisoners and is charged with treason. Letters between Johanna and her Japanese-American friend Peter Ito; the local newspaper editor, Brady McHenry; Johanna’s former childhood friend Annika; and others tease out Johanna’s side of the story alongside documents compiled as “Evidence for Prosecution” and newspaper editorials leading up to the trial. Though the brash and caustic Johanna can come off as preachy and unrealistically modern, her friend Peter balances things out with thought-provoking observations: “we have to have the courage to move beyond” the past or else risk “being trapped under layers of resentment.” While faith elements are subtle, readers will be drawn in by Johanna’s sense of morality. This is a smart examination of patriotism, prejudice, and purpose. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/14/2020
Genre: Inspirational Fiction
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