Wednesday, October 20, 2010

While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austin - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
While We're Far Apart
Bethany House (October 1, 2010)
Lynn Austin


It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.


In an unassuming apartment building in Brooklyn, New York, three lives intersect as the reality of war invades each aspect of their lives. Young Esther is heartbroken when her father decides to enlist in the army shortly after the death of her mother.

Penny Goodrich has been in love with Eddie Shaffer for as long as she can remember; now that Eddie's wife is dead, Penny feels she has been given a second chance and offers to care for his children in the hope that he will finally notice her and marry her after the war.

And elderly Mr. Mendel, the landlord, waits for the war to end to hear what has happened to his son trapped in war-torn Hungary. But during the long, endless wait for victory overseas, life on the home front will go from bad to worse.

Yet these characters will find themselves growing and changing in ways they never expected--and ultimately discovering truths about God's love...even when He is silent.

My Thoughts:

WWII has always been one of my favorite times in history. Lynn Austin takes a fresh look at life on the home front during this tumultuous time period in her latest novel, While We’re Far Apart. The central story line revolves around a young woman, Penny Goodrich, and a Jewish man who manages her friend’s apartment building, Jacob Mendel. When Penny volunteers to care for her friend Eddie’s children during his deployment, it isn’t long before she and Mr. Mendel develop a true friendship. As Penny juggles the care of two children, working full-time and the balancing act between her parents and Eddie’s mother, she discovers first-hand that God’s plans are often far different from her own.

At first, I was a little dubious about a single woman being so willing to care for a friend’s children, and more so because the man’s own mother wasn’t willing to care for her grandchildren. However, as this story line developed, alongside that of Mr. Mendel’s experience as a Jew living stateside during wartime, the reader gets a clear picture of the heartache, uncertainty and hardships that those with loved ones in the fight faced on a day to day basis. The reader also experiences the fear and prejudice that existed among people during that time period as well. It seemed as though it was “normal” to be suspicious of almost everyone.

As Penny establishes a life separate from her parents for the first time, she learns first hand – though very unexpected circumstances – the effect that fear can have upon the decisions we make in life. What she discovers opens up an entirely new world to her, and reinforces her ability to become the independent, confident woman she has always longed to be. Meanwhile, Mr. Mendel is experiencing his own discovery of faith, friendship and forgiveness that transforms his world entirely. As these two become friends, the lessons they learn from one another serve to open their hearts and minds to God’s work in their lives and the goodness that He alone can bring out of the terrifying circumstances created by war.

This is a very moving story, and if you enjoy historical fiction, you will certainly enjoy Lynn Austin’s While We’re Far Apart!

If you would like to read the first chapter of While We're Far Apart, go HERE.


Mocha with Linda said...

I thought this was a wonderful book!

It fascinates me that folks were so horrified at Hitler's actions, yet they, too, were scared/suspicious of Jews and didn't like them.

Kav said...

Sounds like a great book for a book club -- lots of scope for discussion!