Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Patsy 1941: Reading Regional Tales

I thought I had read just about every perspective of WWII out there. After all, I've indulged in Night by Elie Wiesel, Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, along with other great titles. But I guess I was wrong. I never learned what it was like where I lived when the war was going on... But now I do.

Patsy 1941 by Lora Lee Curtiss
Through the eyes of 8-year-old Patsy Hayes, the world seems simple and naive. Her cousin Victoria is her best friend and the small flat her large family shares in Virginia, Minnesota is small but quaint. Everything is all right in her corner of the world. That is until Pearl Harbor is bombed. Though thousands of miles away, things start changing quickly. Her uncle is called out to Washington D.C. to help with the war effort, leaving Victoria in the Hayes' hands. Since the flat is too small, everyone moves to Victoria's house. Patsy's brother dreams of signing up for war. And Patsy must move to a new school. Victoria's school.
Quickly discovering the bond between the two cousins isn't all that Patsy thought it would be, they become enemies. Patsy loses all sense of hope until she meets Michael, a boy with a passion to help the war effort through different collection drives. Patsy and Michael begin a friendship and a club. Meanwhile, the collection process brings on a lot of different obstacles for the whole neighborhood, especially the Hayes family, to deal with.

I have to say that I was enthralled with this book. Knowing the town of Virginia like the back of my hand, I could visualize everything that was going on in Patsy's life. It was a treat. Not only that, but it was a great story! I knew what went on in the states during the war:  victory gardens were planted, many people volunteered, rations were issues. But I never thought what it would be like in the dead of winter for places in Minnesota. It was fairly interesting and reminded me of childhood in many ways, due to the writing styles, different character antics, etc. It was a fun, short read.

What I really got out of reading this, though, was the fact that everyone needs to read local authors. It opens up a whole new world, and while reading authors from other places makes for new adventure, it sometimes takes a story from your hometown to really broaden your horizons. It's like a step back in time, a living and breathing memorial of a specific time period for a specific place. Plus, if we don't know our past, how will we know our future?

It has really inspired me to write a novel about what it was like in my area during a certain time period. I'll put it on my "to-do" list. :)

'Til next time!

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