Norma Hayes has always tried to make Christmas special for her family, but this year it is going to be difficult. Money is tight, and wartime rationing is taking its toll as well. Harder still, her oldest son, Glen, is on the front lines of the battle in Europe. Glen Hayes wants nothing more than to be home for Christmas. He holds a sprig of lavender in his pocket. The scent reminds him of his mother. The memory of home may be the only thing that is keeping him alive and sane during the horrors of war. Dennis Hayes is sixteen and longs to see his older brother again. He also longs to have a relationship with his father, but most important, Dennis is determined to buy something special for his mother this Christmas--the one gift he feels certain she deserves. So many families have had their hopes dashed in World War II. Will the Hayes family make it through?
''It's 1944 and teenager Dennis Hayes longs to join his older brother Glen, who is fighting in Europe..When his family receives word that Glen has been wounded, Dennis realizes that going to war is not so glamorous. Christmas isn't the same without Glen, but the Hayes family members hope and pray that they'll be reunited soon. Hughes's faith-filled, old-fashioned story feels like it could have been written during the period in which it takes place.'' --Library Journal
''Home and Away is far and away the best story I have read this year. Awesome and moving.'' --bestselling author, Obert Skye
I didn't plan to read this book on Veteran's Day, but I did and it was very fitting. Not only did we have snow on the ground, which put me in a Christmas-y mood, but it really brought home what our servicemen and servicewomen do to serve our country. My grandpa served in Army in WWII and every time I read books set in this time period, it really brings to life my memories of him and I miss him.
Dennis is an average 16 year old living in 1944, with a brother serving in the Army as a paratrooper overseas. The story flashes back and forth between home (Ogden, UT) and away (Europe). I love the way Dean Hughes writes such realistic characters. I'm able to understand actions and decisions because of the vivid character descriptions. My heart broke a little for Dennis. Not only is he worried about his brother, Glen, but he's coming of age and trying to relate to a distant father. He's also discovering girls and the importance of looking nice, saving and spending money, and trying to show his mother just how much he loves and appreciates her. Growing up isn't easy.
Norma, the mother, is such a great and selfless character. Being a mother is a tough job, especially when trying to keep up normal family activities in the midst of uncertainty. I love how positive she is.
I love reading about this time period. I felt like I was right there in the Hayes home--observing the small house with the red tiled kitchen, seeing the radio and table playing central roles in the home, and noticing the family dynamics. This is definitely a much simpler, yet trying, time. I couldn't help but to shed a few tears over how this story plays out. My heartstrings had a gentle tugging. This is a great Christmas story for those readers who love these elements.
Content: very mild romance; no language; mild war violence (not too graphic); very mild religious elements (just mentions church in a vague way). Clean!
*I received a copy through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Author Dean Hughes
Dean Hughes is a bestselling and prolific writer who published his hundredth book in 2014. He holds a bachelor's degree from Weber State College and master's degree and PhD from the University of Washington. He has attended post-doctoral seminars at Stanford and Yale Universities and taught English at Central Missouri State University and Brigham Young University.
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