Lena’s Story
DriverWorks Ink / 7 November 2018

Lena’s Story: The D-Day Landings by Patricia Sinclair Published by DriverWorks Ink Reviewed by Ben Charles $12.95 ISBN 9781927570463 Lena’s Story: The D-Day Landings, written by Patricia Sinclair, illustrated by Wendi Nordell, and published by DriverWorks Ink is a fantastic work of historical literature for young readers that is both beautifully crafted and exceptionally informative. The book cleverly educates the reader about the D-Day landings and World War II through a narrative of a young girl speaking with an elderly neighbor named Lena, who is about to move away. Like many real Canadians, the young girl in this story learns about the battle of D-Day and the history of World War II from elderly people in the community that either fought directly in the war or were alive during that time period. As I am writing this, Remembrance Day is approaching, and I cannot help but be reminded through this story that World War II and all of its horrors really did not happen a long time ago. Lena tells the girl, and through a frame narrative, the reader, about what she remembers of that fateful day, June 5th, 1944; as Lena learns about the battle so does the reader….

Otto & Daria
University of Regina Press / 14 December 2016

Otto & Daria: A Wartime Journey Through No Man’s Land by Eric Koch Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $25.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-443-8 When Otto Koch, a German Jew, suffers an appendicitis attack, he’s rushed to a hospital in the Third Reich reserved for non-Jews. As the anaesthesia starts to take effect, the last words he hears are his surgeon greeting his staff with “Heil Hitler.” In his memoir, entitled Otto & Daria: A Wartime Journey Through No Man’s Land, Koch vividly re-creates his life in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s. He brilliantly captures the tension in the air as the Nazis insidiously gain control. His parents protect him from the encroaching danger and at first he leads an idyllic life, isolated from the terror that is to come. Otto continues his life chronicle, studying at the University of Cambridge in England, when he meets the mysterious Daria Hambourg, a woman at first shy but more than adept at expressing herself through her writing. She’s from a distinguished English family, but with a distinctively bohemian bent. She’s also a Socialist with no qualms about expressing her views. Otto and Daria begin corresponding by…

One Family’s War: The Wartime Letters of Clarence Bourassa, 1940-1944

One Family’s War: The Wartime Letters of Clarence Bourassa, 1940-1944 Edited by Rollie Bourassa Published by Canadian Plains Research Center Review by Keith Foster $29.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-221-2 For the average soldier, war is mostly long periods of endless monotony, occasionally interrupted by spasms of sheer terror. This maxim is nowhere more clearly borne out than in One Family’s War: The Wartime Letters of Clarence Bourassa. As the title suggests, this really was a family war because it affected the entire family. By enlisting in the South Saskatchewan Regiment and being shipped overseas in 1940, Clarence had to leave his wife Hazel and two young sons, Rollie and Murray, back home at Lafleche, SK. Edited by his son Rollie, with an introduction by Regina Leader-Post reporter Will Chabun, these letters express Clarence’s abiding love for his wife and children, often with sentimental terms of endearment. Many of the letters are deeply personal. Right from the first, the reader can feel Clarence’s deep pangs of loneliness. And the further he got from his wife, the worse he felt: “I’m all alone in my tent with a great big lump in my throat, and I sure feel like crying.” Aside from letters, the…

The Factory Voice
Coteau Books / 12 November 2010

The Factory Voice by Jeanette Lynes Published by Coteau Books Review by Marie Powell Mendenhall $21.00 ISBN: 1-55050-401-0 The Factory Voice mixes the best traits of historical and mystery novels into one package. It tells the story of four women during the World War II era and the men who become part of their lives. Like all good Canadian stories, it begins with a train ride: 16-year-old Audrey escapes marriage in Alberta to work in an airplane factory in Fort William, Ontario. Sharing the train is Muriel, a brilliant woman who becomes chief engineer at the same factory. In Fort William, secretary Ruby engages Audrey as snack-cart girl to gather “dilly” stories for her Factory Voice newsletter. Before long they cross paths with Ruby’s friend Florence, who must wear a red kerchief as probationary riveter because her mother is a notorious Red Finn. Add to this mix a prison break by a man who turns out to be Muriel’s first love (an anti-war protester), a cantankerous test pilot, a couple of brash young men, and a British intelligence officer sent to investigate possible sabotage, and the novel’s plots and subplots bubble to the end of its 285 pages. Told in…