Dream When You Are Feeling Blue
Author: Elizabeth Berg
Genre: Adult historical fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
FTC Disclosure: I bought this book ages ago from Chaucer's
Summary (from the back of the book): In Chicago, as World War II rages in Europe, the Heaney sisters sit at their kitchen table each evening to write letters--Louise to her fiance, Michael, who has just left to fight overseas; Kitty to Julian, also a soldier, and the man she wishes fervently would propose; and the third Heaney sister, Tish, to an ever changing group of men she meets at USO dances. In the letters the sisters send and receive are intimate glimpses of the life both on the battlefront and at home. For Kitty, a confident, headstrong young woman, the departure of her boyfriend and the lessons she learns about love, resilience, and war will bring a surprise and uncover a secret, and will lead her to a radical action on behalf of those she loves that will change the Heaney family forever. The lifelong consequences of the choices the sisters make are at the heart of this superb novel about the power of love and the enduring strength of family.
Review: I am a sucker for anything WWII so I knew I would enjoy this book. For some reason it took me the entire week to read it, but I think that's because it's been so insanely busy at work and at home.
Elizabeth Berg's writing style is easy to get into right away; she drew me in with the easy banter of the Heaney sisters, their parents, and younger brothers. I liked that I got a glimpse into Irish Catholic life in the 1940s as well as the WWII aspects of the book. Using the sisters' letters as a vehicle, we learn about their love lives, the USO dances, the jobs women worked (including working in a factory building planes), and what the hopes and dreams of women in the 1940s were like: find a man, get married, have children. However, Katie, the main character also shows that there were women who didn't follow that model.
The sisters receive letters from both boyfriends and men they have met at the USO dances and in these letters the reader hears about battles, social lives of the soldiers, and what it is like to be young and far away from home. Families in the book are not spared from grief and I definitely felt emotional at times.
If you are interested in American family culture, World War II era, or a story about sisters and what they will do for one another, this is probably a book that you will enjoy. I also liked the author's acknowledgements at the end of the book because she reveals that much of the structure of the book came from her own family's experiences during WWII!