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The Wartime Book Club by Kate Thompson #Review

  The Wartime Book Club is a marvellous historical novel set on Jersey in World War Two. Written by Kate Thompson , it was published by Hodder $ Stoughton on February 13th. Jersey, 1943. Once a warm and neighbourly community, now German soldiers patrol the cobbled streets, imposing a harsh rule on the people of the island. Grace La Mottée, the island's only librarian, is ordered to destroy books which threaten the new regime. Instead, she hides the stories away in secret. Along with her headstrong best friend, postwoman Bea Rose, she wants to fight back. So she forms the wartime book club: a lifeline, offering fearful islanders the joy and escapism of reading. But as the occupation drags on, the women's quiet acts of bravery become more perilous - and more important - than ever before. And, when tensions turn to violence, they are forced to face the true, terrible cost of resistance . . . Based on astonishing real events, The Wartime Book Club is a love letter

Four Months in Brighton Park by Larry Ehrhorn #BookReview

In December 2018, I was lucky enough to feature author Larry Ehrhorn on Books, Life and Everything. You can read the Meet the Author post here. Today, I am back again to talk a little more about his debut novel, Four Months in Brighton Park

Set in a working class neighborhood on Chicago's southwest side in 1965, "Four Months in Brighton Park" focuses on Kelly Elliott, the kid with two first names. Kelly is a cross between Holden Caulfield and Walter Mitty, rarely facing reality until one day when he is forced to confront the consequences of his actions, when he impulsively makes an obscene gesture at Joe Swedarsky, the school jock and bully. That initial conflict starts a cascade of humorous and affecting dominoes that change his life. Being raised by his single, hard-working mother, Kelly stumbles through misadventures -- dealing with his mother's tyrannical pilot boyfriend, peer pressure, male curiosities, teachers, and friendships. Besides Ma, his guides through this journey include Little Joey, the legless owner of a local deli; best friend Jerry Hogan, Mary Harker, a troubled, mature woman; and Linda Martinsen, the quiet girl who found something likable in Kelly. The four month journey taken by Kelly provides insight, change, humor and empathy, elements of which all people are familiar.

My Thoughts

This novel gave me a real lift. There is humour to be found in the adolescent struggles of Kelly Elliott, as he endures the embarrassments and longings of teenage years in the 1960's. Kelly is easy to identify with and written in the first person, you get to see the world though his eyes. You get to see how it feels to be 'a child intruder in an adult world'. This is a coming of age story as Kelly learns to deal with some difficult situations and begins to stand up for himself. 

    Kelly has had a difficult home life with his single mother and her various men-friends. An acne -prone adolescent, he initially stands out as a victim but we get to see how he matures, partly through the people he meets during a crucial four months in his teens. Most  telling is his reaction to Linda, the young girl he initially idolises. Well observed, with humour and pathos, this is an unusual and enjoyable read.

In short: A young boy comes of age in the 60's.

About the Author

Larry Ehrhorn was born in Chicago and raised in the city and its
suburbs.  After his own graduation (not nearly as traumatic as Kelly's), he attended Northern Illinois University, working summers and vacation holidays at various factories. After college graduation (a whole other story), Ehrhorn began a 33-year career as a high school English teacher (not Mr. Bates from the novel) in various schools ranging from a Chicago large suburban school to several small rural schools in Wisconsin. It was this during this somewhat lengthy career when he realized that times and places change, but students do not.  Much of Four Months in Brighton Park reflects not only the author but the more than 3,000 students he taught.

You can follow Larry here: Twitter   |  Website   |  Facebook

Book links: Goodreads   |  Amazon US   |  Amazon UK  

Thanks to Larry Ehrhorn for a copy of his book.


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