Thursday 1 July 2021

Book ~ "Letters Across the Sea" (2021) Genevieve Graham

From Goodreads ~ If you’re reading this letter, that means I’m dead. I had obviously hoped to see you again, to explain in person, but fate had other plans.

At eighteen years old, Molly Ryan dreams of becoming a journalist but instead she spends her days working any job she can to help her family through the Depression crippling her city. The one bright spot in her life is watching baseball with her best friend, Hannah Dreyfus, and sneaking glances at Hannah’s handsome older brother, Max.

But as the summer unfolds, more and more of Hitler’s hateful ideas cross the sea and “Swastika Clubs” and “No Jews Allowed” signs spring up around Toronto, a city already simmering with mass unemployment, protests, and unrest. When tensions between the Irish and Jewish communities erupt in a riot one smouldering day in August, Molly and Max are caught in the middle, with devastating consequences for both their families.

Six years later, the Depression has eased and Molly is a reporter at her local paper. But a new war is on the horizon, putting everyone she cares about most in peril. As letters trickle in from overseas, Molly is forced to confront what happened all those years ago, but is it too late to make things right?

Teenager Molly is best friends with Hannah, which in the early 1930s in Toronto was not encouraged as Molly is Christian and Hannah is Jewish.  Molly is attracted to Hannah's older brother, Max, and the feeling is mutual but they can't pursue a relationship because of their religions.  During a baseball game, there is a violent riot and Molly and Max have one kiss that neither can forget and something happens that drives a wedge between the families.

Max goes off to medical school.  Due to interference of Molly's parents, she thinks he doesn't care about her anymore and he thinks the same and they don't communicate again.  Max ends up becoming a soldier and along with Molly's brothers and friends, experience horrific things overseas.  Years later when Max comes home, Molly is now a reporter and engaged to Ian.  As she spends time with Max for a story she is working on, they realize they still care deeply about it each other.

I thought this was an interesting story as I didn't realize there was such discrimination of Jews here in Toronto so I learned something.  I thought the writing style was okay ... it's first person perspective when it focuses on Molly and third person perspective when it focuses on Max.  I found there was a lot of detail when Max was overseas in the war ... it's like the author was providing a history lesson, which is fine but it sometimes read like a history book.  Set in Toronto, I knew where the places the characters spent time ... like Kensington Market, Christie Pits, etc.

No comments: