The Last Year of the War
Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943--aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.

The Last Year of the War Details

TitleThe Last Year of the War
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 19th, 2019
PublisherBerkley
ISBN-139780451492159
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, War, World War II

The Last Year of the War Review

  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 stars rounded upI wanted to read this because of the importance of the subject matter. The internment of innocent people, many of whom were America citizens during WWII and the affect of that on families, a sad and shameful part of our history that is not often talked about. Up front, I have to say that overall I was disappointed. It just doesn’t measure up to other books that I’ve read dealing with the internment camps - Snow Falling on Cedars and When the Emperor Was Divine. Something was 2.5 stars rounded upI wanted to read this because of the importance of the subject matter. The internment of innocent people, many of whom were America citizens during WWII and the affect of that on families, a sad and shameful part of our history that is not often talked about. Up front, I have to say that overall I was disappointed. It just doesn’t measure up to other books that I’ve read dealing with the internment camps - Snow Falling on Cedars and When the Emperor Was Divine. Something was lacking for me at first . Maybe it was that the writing is too straight forward and lacked a way of pulling me in emotionally. The writing got better half way in and I was emotionally drawn in, but then the story turned into a soap opera of sorts in my view and I lost that emotional connection. There are some redeeming things about this that deserve to be noted. Elise Sontag is a young German American girl and she and family are held in an internment camp along with other families - German as well as Japanese and a smaller number of Italians. The feeling of loss, of displacement, of ambivalence for some of the people is depicted well. It was heartbreaking to see what happened to so many families, uprooted from their homes. For Elise’s family, things got even worse when they were sent to Germany in the midst of the war. Here, especially for Elise we see that loss of self, of feeling that she didn’t belong even though she was with family. We also don’t see often the impact of the war on Germans who were not Nazi supporters. The telling of this was not perfect, but there were some things to reflect on concerning this time in history, so 2.5 stars rounded up. This was a Traveling Sisters group read. I received an advanced copy of this book from Berkley through NetGalley.
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  • Susanne Strong
    January 1, 1970
    2.75 Stars* (rounded up) Have you ever waited with bated breath for an author’s new book to come out only to be disappointed? Unfortunately, that happened to me with Susan Meissner’s new novel “The Last Year of The War.” Elise Sontag is a German girl. Her family arrives at the Internment camp and there, she meets Mariko Inoue, a Japanese American. Both families are deemed traitors of war. The bond these two teenagers form is immeasurable. When Elise and her family are traded back to Germany duri 2.75 Stars* (rounded up) Have you ever waited with bated breath for an author’s new book to come out only to be disappointed? Unfortunately, that happened to me with Susan Meissner’s new novel “The Last Year of The War.” Elise Sontag is a German girl. Her family arrives at the Internment camp and there, she meets Mariko Inoue, a Japanese American. Both families are deemed traitors of war. The bond these two teenagers form is immeasurable. When Elise and her family are traded back to Germany during “The Last Year of the War,” she is torn from Mariko and grows wise beyond her years. In Germany, the war rages on, bombings, death, destruction and then after what seems like a lifetime, the war is over. Before Elise turns Eighteen, she meets an American soldier, whom she marries and then life as she knows it changes forever.For me, the premise of this book held a lot of promise: two young teenage girls meeting at an internment camp in Texas in 1943 during World War II, one German, one Japanese-American, suddenly torn apart, bound for life due to the experiences they shared - sadly however, it didn’t quite deliver. This novel was slow moving and left me wanting more. I kept waiting for there to be a give and take between the characters, to “feel” something for them, for my heart to ache for what they were going through and regrettably those moments never materialized. In addition, this novel was written in a tell v. show style which made it hard for me feel invested. I loved Ms. Meissner’s last novel, “As Bright As Heaven” - it was one of my favorite reads of a few years ago thus it is with a heavy heart that I confess that this one just didn’t measure up. As you will note, I am an outlier here, almost all other reviewers loved this novel thus I encourage you to read their reviews and not let mine discourage you in anyway.Thank you to Elisha at Berkley Publishing Group and to Susan Meissner for an arc of this novel in exchange for an honest review.Published on Goodreads on 2.10.19.
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  • Dorie - Traveling Sister :)
    January 1, 1970
    As soon as I found out that Ms. Meissner had a new novel coming out, I was very excited to receive an arc to review. I’ve been looking forward to this one. I’m sorry to say that I was disappointed. This is a 3* mainly because I learned some history, liked the last of the book but then didn’t like the very ending :( does that make any sense to you. I think part of the strength of As Bright As Heaven was definitely in it’s well described characters and of course the Spanish flu epidemic and myste As soon as I found out that Ms. Meissner had a new novel coming out, I was very excited to receive an arc to review. I’ve been looking forward to this one. I’m sorry to say that I was disappointed. This is a 3* mainly because I learned some history, liked the last ¼ of the book but then didn’t like the very ending :( does that make any sense to you. I think part of the strength of As Bright As Heaven was definitely in it’s well described characters and of course the Spanish flu epidemic and mystery surrounding the baby, all of those things were "action" for me. There was so much that happened to the characters and I also felt that they “grew” as a family throughout the novel.This book was such a slow starter that I almost put is aside for a while, it dragged with very little going on with the characters, just some interaction at the Camp and of course her meeting with Meriko. I was at 50% on my Kindle before there was even anything that was keeping me reading. I did have some knowledge of German Americans being interned during the war, partially because I live in a suburb of Milwaukee which had a very large German population, especially during that time period. This was also mentioned in another book I read about internment camps. This book finally kicked in for me when they were sent to Germany and I really enjoyed the last 1/4 of the book. I wish so much that there had been this level of emotion in the rest of the book.I don’t want to give away any of the interesting parts of the book because I know readers will be looking forward to this but I will say that when she came back to the US I started to feel as though I understood more of Elise’s character. I cared more for her in that little part of the book than I had up until that time. Even to the end though I didn't feel the strong force of Elise and Mariko’s relationship, which initially I thought was the driving force of the book. I never felt a deep connection to Elise or any of the characters really, they all felt rather flat to me. By the end of the book I felt that the war itself was the strongest “character” in my opinion.There are many reviewers who loved this book but I can’t really recommend it and I feel badly for that. Ms. Meissner is a wonderful author and I will look forward to her future novels.I received an ARC of this novel through NetGalley.
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  • Mary Beth *Traveling Sister*
    January 1, 1970
    Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943--aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943--aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.This one felt like a YA book to me with childhood friendships and family with a history lesson. I felt like the author was telling us about the war instead of telling us a story. I need to have some type of action or suspense and I didn't feel that this book had any of that. When I read a book about the war, I expect it to be dark and suspenseful. I didn't have a connection with any of the characters and didn't feel any of their emotions since the connection was not there. I did not care for the writing either. I am a big fan of historical fiction and I am loving this genre more and more. I am excited to read As Bright as Heaven by this author. This book did not grab me and it was a struggle. I was so disapointed. I am in the minority so I would take a look at all the four and five star reviews. Lots of others loved it. This was a Traveling Sister Read and I think that most of us struggled with this one. But there were others that loved it.I want to thank Edelweiss, Berkley and the author for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.2.5 stars rounded up
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  • Holly B
    January 1, 1970
    A story of two girls that began a long friendship during World War II when their families were sent to an internment camp.Elise Sontag was German-American and her friend, Mariko Inoue, was Japanese-American. Together, they hold on to their American identities and dream of one day returning and living the American dream in Manhattan. Elise struggles to understand the circumstances surrounding her father being accused of being a Nazi sympathizer.I was engrossed in parts that were gripping and comp A story of two girls that began a long friendship during World War II when their families were sent to an internment camp.Elise Sontag was German-American and her friend, Mariko Inoue, was Japanese-American. Together, they hold on to their American identities and dream of one day returning and living the American dream in Manhattan. Elise struggles to understand the circumstances surrounding her father being accused of being a Nazi sympathizer.I was engrossed in parts that were gripping and compelling, with other chapters slowing down with what felt like too many details of the everyday happenings with the girls. The pace did pick up towards the end and I was invested in finding out if Elise and Mariko would have their happy endings. Overall, I enjoyed this one that focused on the girls lifelong friendship and the struggles that each family experienced when they were sent to the internment camps. The author has a wonderful writing style that pulled me right into the heart of this story.Recommend to those who enjoy themes of childhood friendship, love, family, fear and World War II.
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    Susan Meissner’s characterization continues to be tops. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ Elise Sontag is a fourteen-year-old growing up in Iowa in the early 1940s. The war is in full swing, and she knows it, but she feels safe because of her distance from it. Elise’s father is an immigrant to the United States, living in the country for over twenty years, when he is arrested for being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is moved to an interment camp in Texas where they live like prisoners. Elise has lost everything she held Susan Meissner’s characterization continues to be tops. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Elise Sontag is a fourteen-year-old growing up in Iowa in the early 1940s. The war is in full swing, and she knows it, but she feels safe because of her distance from it. Elise’s father is an immigrant to the United States, living in the country for over twenty years, when he is arrested for being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is moved to an interment camp in Texas where they live like prisoners. Elise has lost everything she held close and even who she is. Elise makes a friend at camp, though. Mariko is a Japanese-American teen who helps Elise realize that one day they’ll be free again. Elise and Mariko forge a bond that helps them both survive daily life at camp. The Last Year of the War is a story of family, hope, forgiveness, strength, and determination. All along I rooted for Elise and Mariko to not give up and what strength of character they each showed. Elise is a formidable teen, one to champion and admire. I found her story compelling, and I’m so grateful I read it. I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own. My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
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  • Katie B
    January 1, 1970
    I love how this historical fiction book explored the topic of internment camps in World War 2 as it's something you don't see very often in the genre. To be quite honest it's basically a "let's just pretend it didn't happen" type subject here in the United States. I grew up in the 80s and 90s and I don't ever remember talking about it in school. So I'm glad this author decided this was a story worth telling.It's 1943 and fourteen year old Elise Sontag is living in Iowa with her parents and broth I love how this historical fiction book explored the topic of internment camps in World War 2 as it's something you don't see very often in the genre. To be quite honest it's basically a "let's just pretend it didn't happen" type subject here in the United States. I grew up in the 80s and 90s and I don't ever remember talking about it in school. So I'm glad this author decided this was a story worth telling.It's 1943 and fourteen year old Elise Sontag is living in Iowa with her parents and brother. Even though her German born father has been a legal resident in the United States for two decades, he is still arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to live at an internment camp in Texas where Elise soon meets Mariko Inoue, a Japanese teen who has also been sent to live at the camp along with her family. The two strike up a friendship but as a brutal war rages on, things will never be the same.When I first started reading the book I thought the girls' friendship would be the main focus. While it was a key part of the story, for me the real strength of the book was Elise and her life story. She brought an interesting perspective as someone who has lived her whole life as an American and yet she and her family were treated like the enemy and eventually sent to live in Germany. When the story moved to Germany it brought with it even more tension as you knew from history the war was coming to a close but yet was still bringing destruction. I found this to be a really compelling historical fiction read. It's one of those good ones in which it holds your interest but you also learn a thing or two. The only criticism I have is I expected to feel something more when reading. I thought there was so much buildup with the friendship between the two girls and by the time the story caught up to the present day, it just felt lackluster and almost rushed. In general, while I certainly had enough interest in Elise to want to keep reading, I just never felt a real emotional connection to her. I might be in the minority with that opinion though. Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.
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  • Brandice
    January 1, 1970
    In The Last Year of the War, Elise Sontag is a 14 year old living in Iowa when her German father is arrested for allegedly being a Nazi sympathizer. Elise, her mother, and brother are eventually reunited with her father at an internment camp in Texas. This is a difficult time for the Sontag family and tensions are high at the camp, with rules and regulations in effect. While there, Elise meets Mariko, a Japanese American girl from California, who is also at the camp with her family. The girls fo In The Last Year of the War, Elise Sontag is a 14 year old living in Iowa when her German father is arrested for allegedly being a Nazi sympathizer. Elise, her mother, and brother are eventually reunited with her father at an internment camp in Texas. This is a difficult time for the Sontag family and tensions are high at the camp, with rules and regulations in effect. While there, Elise meets Mariko, a Japanese American girl from California, who is also at the camp with her family. The girls form a fast friendship. The Sontag family is then sent back to Germany. Mariko and Elise promise to stay in touch and reunite in New York City when they are both 18 years old. The story continues following Elise and her family as they endure the hardships of war in Germany, devastation and death all around them. Elise feels lost and lonely, and eagerly awaits letters from Mariko, whose family was sent back to Japan. When the war eventually ends, Elise must figure out who she really is and what she wants to do, reclaiming the life she was denied in recent years.I cannot imagine going through what either of these families (among several others) faced, in general, or at such a young age - Feeling lost, denied simple pleasures and the freedom of choice, the inability to communicate with friends. Elise and Mariko’s strength was admirable. The book moved slowly at parts but I did enjoy it. The girls’ friendship is a primary aspect of the story but so is Elise’s journey to find herself and build her life, moving forward. This is the second book I’ve read by Susan Meissner, having enjoyed both of them. I would add The Last Year of the War to the list of historical fiction books where I personally learned a lot.Thank you to Berkley Publishing for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Berit☀️✨
    January 1, 1970
    A heartbreaking tale about the atrocities of war, and one girl who never allowed the cruelty of war to break her spirit! It never ceases to amaze me how tragic, horrifying, and devastating war is! This was my very first book from Susan Meissner, but will definitely not be my last! This book completely captivated me, I was fully invested in the lives of all these characters from first page to last. I did have prior knowledge of the Japanese internment camps during WWII, however I did not realize A heartbreaking tale about the atrocities of war, and one girl who never allowed the cruelty of war to break her spirit! It never ceases to amaze me how tragic, horrifying, and devastating war is! This was my very first book from Susan Meissner, but will definitely not be my last! This book completely captivated me, I was fully invested in the lives of all these characters from first page to last. I did have prior knowledge of the Japanese internment camps during WWII, however I did not realize that we also sent Germans to these camps. I also did not realize that we sent German people living in America back to Germany in the midst of war, that is truly horrifying! This is really a part of our history that we as Americans seem to avoid acknowledging. It certainly does not appear to be in any history book I’ve ever seen? OK I just asked my kids and they do teach it now, however back in the day when I was in school this was not ever brought up, so that’s something. It is definitely a dark time in our country‘s history. This is one of the reasons why I love books so much, they always have something to teach you. More times than not they give you a little nugget of knowledge to walk away with that you didn’t already possess. Elise is an American citizen, born in America and has lived in America her entire life. her parents are legal residence of the United States, however her father is falsely thought to be a Nazi sympathizer and ultimately the family is sent to an internment camp in Texas. While at the internment camp Elise befriends a Japanese American girl, Mariko. The girls form a tight bond and it is this friendship and the hopes and dreams that come from it that will help Elise through the toughest and darkest of days. When Elise‘s family is sent back to Germany to endure the last year of the war. It is the hope that she will one day be reunited with her friend in America that Elise clings to like a lifeline. And over 70 years later Elise still clings to the bond that ultimately leads to the friends reunion.Elise really completely stole my heart in this book. She was a brave, smart, resourceful young lady, with a strong spirit. Her story was so disturbing and devastating, it definitely broke my spirit at times. I really loved the friendship between Elise and Mariko, but I have to say my one complaint about the book is that we did not see what happened to Mariko after the internment camp. Maybe this is in a future book? I guess I felt so much was made out of this friendship and then it just wasn’t there anymore? It was almost as though Elise was hanging onto a ghost. However this did not hinder my enjoyment of this book. Although it is hard to say I enjoyed a book that was so real and raw and at times depressing. War is brutal and this book really brought that to life.A riveting story about an exceptional girl Who grows into a remarkable woman, who I will not soon forget! Absolutely recommend!*** many thanks to Berkley for my copy of this book ***
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    I loved her last book, but will this one I had trouble. What I likedIt started out strong, an elderly Elise, suffering from Alzheimers, gives it a name. Thought that was inventive.The way she found with said issue.The description of the family relocation camping in Texas during WWII. The history behind the camp.The friendship between the two girls.What I wish had been betterThe connection i couldn't feel, always felt I was viewing the story from a distance.Too much tell and not enough show.Somet I loved her last book, but will this one I had trouble. What I likedIt started out strong, an elderly Elise, suffering from Alzheimers, gives it a name. Thought that was inventive.The way she found with said issue.The description of the family relocation camping in Texas during WWII. The history behind the camp.The friendship between the two girls.What I wish had been betterThe connection i couldn't feel, always felt I was viewing the story from a distance.Too much tell and not enough show.Sometimes felt like I was reading a YA novel, which I don't have a problem with, but was not expecting.Would have liked to hear more of Mirankos story, what happened to her in the interval.The length was way to long, and at times it dragged and I skimmed.Didn't much care for the ending.So a mixed bag. Many readers did not have the same problems I did, and you may be one of them. Sometimes I think I'm getting too fussy. Other times I think if you read many books as I do, your expectations are sometimes too high. That may also be the case here. ARC from Netgalley.
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  • Norma * Traveling Sister
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 Stars!Compelling, meticulously detailed & affecting!THE LAST YEAR OF THE WAR by SUSAN MEISSNER is an interesting, thought-provoking and a touching historical fiction novel that explored a topic that I have not previously read before. To be honest I wasn’t even really aware of this heartbreaking part of history where innocent American families were sent to internment camps during World War II. I definitely learned something and for that I was quite intrigued and taken with this book. SUSA 3.5 Stars!Compelling, meticulously detailed & affecting!THE LAST YEAR OF THE WAR by SUSAN MEISSNER is an interesting, thought-provoking and a touching historical fiction novel that explored a topic that I have not previously read before. To be honest I wasn’t even really aware of this heartbreaking part of history where innocent American families were sent to internment camps during World War II. I definitely learned something and for that I was quite intrigued and taken with this book. SUSAN MEISSNER delivers an important, beautifully written and slow-moving read here that at times was a little tedious to read but not to the point that I was overly bored though. More that some of the details went right over my head. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I felt a true connection to these characters but I did feel a connection to the storyline in general though which definitely held my interest and attention throughout.I totally enjoyed how Elise’s unlikely friendship and the bond she shared with Mariko got her through an extremely difficult time and shaped her to be a strong, resilient and brave young girl and woman in the future. We learn at the beginning of the book that Elise suffers from Alzheimer’s and I particularly enjoyed that she gave her disease a name. I thought that was pretty ingenious and would have liked that explored a little more as I found that quite intriguing. This was a Traveling Sisters group read.Norma’s Stats:Cover: An appealing, emotive and fitting representation to storyline. Title: Intriguing, interesting, emotive and an effective representation to storyline. Writing/Prose: Beautifully written, meticulous, engaging and thoroughly enjoyed. Plot: Detailed, well-researched, interesting, thought-provoking, leisurely-paced, and entertaining.Ending: A touching ending that I was totally satisfied and happy with. Overall: This novel didn’t necessarily give me all the “feels” but it did give me enough to make this an entertaining and enjoyable read. Would recommend! Thank you so much to Elisha at Berkley Publishing and Susan Meissner for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book in exchange for a review.
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  • Brenda - Traveling Sister
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 StarsA German- American girl, a Japanese-American girl, an American internment camp, and an empowering friendship.The Last Year of the War explores a dark and overlooked part of US history that I didn’t know anything about. Told through vivid historical details we learn the fear and pain of a family sent to an American internment camp. We are told how they lost their freedom and identity and one girl’s fight to gain it back.I really appreciated the historical details here however it felt mor 3.5 StarsA German- American girl, a Japanese-American girl, an American internment camp, and an empowering friendship.The Last Year of the War explores a dark and overlooked part of US history that I didn’t know anything about. Told through vivid historical details we learn the fear and pain of a family sent to an American internment camp. We are told how they lost their freedom and identity and one girl’s fight to gain it back.I really appreciated the historical details here however it felt more like we were being told the devastating events and hardship that changed the lives of innocent Americans. I wanted to be shown and be emerged into their hardship instead I struggled with emotionally connecting to the characters and the story. I felt that this was an important story to be told and I am really glad I read it or I wouldn’t have known about this part of history. I recommend but to keep in mind you might not get that emotional connection you might be looking for.Thank you so much to Elisha at Berkley Publishing and Susan Meissner for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of this book
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    A deeply affecting and beautifully written historical fiction story of a family of German immigrants interned during WWII. SUMMARYElise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943. Her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, she meets fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles. Their friendship empowers them both to believe the A deeply affecting and beautifully written historical fiction story of a family of German immigrants interned during WWII. SUMMARYElise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943. Her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, she meets fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles. Their friendship empowers them both to believe there will be a future for them together in New York City after the war.  But soon the Sontag family is exchanged for American prisoners behind enemy lines in Germany. Elise quickly comes face to face with the horrors of war. Separated from her friend, Elise struggles with what she should do and who she wants to be. The Last Year of the War highlights a small piece of the World War II story, where more than 11,000 German American and German Latin American residents and citizens were interned during WWII. REVIEWShe had me at Agnes Finster. At that point I knew this book was going to be interesting, thought-provoking, and moving. And it did not disappoint. It’s is the story of how hatred and fear totally upended a family’s life. This story was deeply affecting for me because it could easily have been my family in 1943. My grandfather, American born of immigrant parents, was publicly accused of being a spy for the Germans, despite having a son fighting in the war. He was investigated and cleared of any wrong doing, but what if they had decided to arrest him or intern his family? Elise’s character is alive on the pages and her story alternates between 2010 and 1943, as she struggles with the loss of family and friends and everything she has known. This is a great piece of historical fiction that will resonant with many readers today as over 15,000 children were being held in U.S. detention camps in December of 2018. Susan Meissner’s writing is beautiful and full of breathtaking detail. Meissner is a USA today best-selling author of historical fiction books. She is an author, speaker, and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her numerous novels include As Bright as Heaven (2018), Secrets of a Charmed Life (2015), and A Fall of Marigolds (2014). A California native, she attended point Loma Nazarene University and is also a writing workshop volunteer for Words Alive, a San Diego nonprofit dedicated to helping at-risk youth foster a love for reading and writing.Thanks to Susan Messiner, Netgalley and Berkley for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Publisher BerkleyPublished March 19, 2019Review www.bluestockingreviews.com
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  • Myrna
    January 1, 1970
    Susan Meissner has yet to disappoint me! It was an engaging story spread throughout different locations and across several years. The places described in the book were so easy to picture. Although this book covered some intense situations I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and learning in the process. Every step of the way the characters drew me in and made me want to continue the journey. This was a great story of hope, strength, love and bonds. If you decide to pick this book up be prepared for s Susan Meissner has yet to disappoint me! It was an engaging story spread throughout different locations and across several years. The places described in the book were so easy to picture. Although this book covered some intense situations I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and learning in the process. Every step of the way the characters drew me in and made me want to continue the journey. This was a great story of hope, strength, love and bonds. If you decide to pick this book up be prepared for some “telling” of the history.
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  • Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
    January 1, 1970
    Release Date: March 19, 2019Elise Sontag is a German American teenager living in Iowa during World War 2. Her parents have lived in the US for twenty years but are not legal citizens. While the war in Europe is escalating, her father is arrested and charged with being a Nazi sympathizer. Rather than being seperated, the entire family is interned at a government camp in Crystal City, Texas.Life at the camp becomes bearable when Elise befriends Mariko Inoue, a Japanese American girl from Californi Release Date: March 19, 2019Elise Sontag is a German American teenager living in Iowa during World War 2. Her parents have lived in the US for twenty years but are not legal citizens. While the war in Europe is escalating, her father is arrested and charged with being a Nazi sympathizer. Rather than being seperated, the entire family is interned at a government camp in Crystal City, Texas.Life at the camp becomes bearable when Elise befriends Mariko Inoue, a Japanese American girl from California. They become close while spending all their free time together. Together they plan for a future in New York City with a fresh start and new careers. These plans get put on hold when Elise’s family is sent to back to Germany in a prisoner exchange. The Last Year Of The War by Susan Meissner is an emotional journey of a young girl growing up during wartime. This story is touching as Elise makes one last effort to rekindle a friendship broken by time. I really enjoyed this novel.
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  • DeAnn
    January 1, 1970
    **Happy publication week to this one, I rated it 5 stellar starsI simply loved this book and the characters that Susan Meissner brings to life, by the end of the book they felt like old friends. The historical research is evident but seamlessly woven into a very realistic story. There are broad themes of friendship, love, identity, family loyalty, the damages of war -- all with an important historical backdrop.We meet Elise Sontag when she is an elderly woman and then learn more about her early **Happy publication week to this one, I rated it 5 stellar starsI simply loved this book and the characters that Susan Meissner brings to life, by the end of the book they felt like old friends. The historical research is evident but seamlessly woven into a very realistic story. There are broad themes of friendship, love, identity, family loyalty, the damages of war -- all with an important historical backdrop.We meet Elise Sontag when she is an elderly woman and then learn more about her early life as a typical teenager living in Iowa while WWII rages in Europe. Her German father is arrested and sent to an internment camp and the whole family later follows. Elise befriends Mariko – a teenager in the same boat she’s in – Mariko’s parents are Japanese. The girls become fast friends over the long months in the camp, but circumstances force them apart and they struggle to remain in touch.While I had been aware of Japanese internment camps, I didn’t know there were Germans interned as well. Another surprise was that some of these families were sent back to their “home” countries when they had lived in the U.S. for many years. I adored the character of Elise Sontag and cheered for her to overcome the huge obstacles placed in the way of her happiness. I highly recommend this story if you enjoy WWII historical fiction.Thank you to BookBrowse and Berkley for the chance to read an advanced copy of this book.
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  • ♥ Sandi ❣
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for allowing me to read and review this ARC. Published March 19. 2019.This being my first read of a Susan Meissner book I have no past references for comparison. However, with that said, I found this book to be very enjoyable. I enjoyed the way she moved her characters back in time to tell their story. I was pleasantly surprised to see she used a town very familiar to me to base the life of one character's childhood. Everything she spoke about still e 3.5 stars Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for allowing me to read and review this ARC. Published March 19. 2019.This being my first read of a Susan Meissner book I have no past references for comparison. However, with that said, I found this book to be very enjoyable. I enjoyed the way she moved her characters back in time to tell their story. I was pleasantly surprised to see she used a town very familiar to me to base the life of one character's childhood. Everything she spoke about still exists and two spots, in particular, have recently been in the news. For me, that brought an extra layer to the novel. My only problem with the story was I felt that the ending was a bit rushed. I would have liked to have seen a few of the things that were bundled up for closure given a bit more time and detail. Two elderly women, both with life-threatening illnesses, are brought back together for a final goodbye. After watching them grow up during WWI, both assigned to a detention camp by the United States and then sent back to their families homeland, they lost touch with each other. While following America born Elise, we see her return from a war-torn Germany and settle back into her life in America. Mariko, on the other hand, lived her life in Japan, until her later years of life, when she finally returned to America. The story of not only war, of America's sad history of putting its own people into detention camps, but of the love and resilience of two young girls, as they navigated their lives as well as they could.
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  • Juli
    January 1, 1970
    In 1943 when she was 13 years old, Elise Sontag was sent to an internment camp in Texas with her entire family. Her parents were born in Germany and despite 20 years in America, they were investigated and interred as possible Nazi sympathizers. It was the last year of World War II. Many of German, Japanese, and Italian descent were being forced into camps. Elise was born in America, but it didn't matter. She spent 18 months in the camp and then her entire family was sent to Germany. They were ex In 1943 when she was 13 years old, Elise Sontag was sent to an internment camp in Texas with her entire family. Her parents were born in Germany and despite 20 years in America, they were investigated and interred as possible Nazi sympathizers. It was the last year of World War II. Many of German, Japanese, and Italian descent were being forced into camps. Elise was born in America, but it didn't matter. She spent 18 months in the camp and then her entire family was sent to Germany. They were exchanged for American civilians and POWs. While in the camp, Elise became best friends with a Japanese girl, Mariko Hayashi. When Mariko's family was going back to Japan and Elise faced deportation to Germany, the two girls promised that after the war they would find each other again. They wouldn't see each other again for 60 years......I never knew about the WW II internment camps in America until I reached college level history courses. All those years of history instruction in public school, and it was never mentioned once that Americans were detained. I can only imagine how frightening and traumatic it was for Americans to be forced into camps because of their foreign birth or ancestry. The Last Year of the War is both disturbing and joyful. Two girls find friendship amidst injustice, but are separated for decades by circumstances and the aftermath of war. At times, I felt the plot moved a little too slow. Just as Elise was getting close to her reunion with Mariko, the story would jump back to the war era, prolonging the moment I was waiting for. I think my feelings were just pure impatience on my part. The girls waited 60 years to see each other again....you would think I could hang in there for 300 pages or so. When I finished the book and could think about the story as a whole, I realized that the slow build was necessary. This is a beautiful and very emotional story. It not only shows the effects of war on children but also the lasting bonds of friendship. This is the first book by Susan Meissner that I have read. I like her writing style and storytelling. I will definitely be reading more of her books!**I voluntarily read an advance readers copy of this book from Berkley via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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  • Mary Jackson _TheMaryReader
    January 1, 1970
    Are you ready for a history lesson like no other? I fell into this book and ate up every page of this friendship and the rich history. A historical drama you are not soon going to forget.Elise begins her journey to find Mariko and we get a look into her life.My hope is that everyone gets to read this work of art.Elise's was taught that people are all the same, regardless of race, religion, where they are born.4 stars and I recommend it.The Mary Reader received this book from the publisher for re Are you ready for a history lesson like no other? I fell into this book and ate up every page of this friendship and the rich history. A historical drama you are not soon going to forget.Elise begins her journey to find Mariko and we get a look into her life.My hope is that everyone gets to read this work of art.Elise's was taught that people are all the same, regardless of race, religion, where they are born.4 stars and I recommend it.The Mary Reader received this book from the publisher for review. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are our own.
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  • Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    A friendship made in an internment camp during WWII that lasted only eighteen months, but bonds and memories that lasted a lifetime.Elise and Mariko met during WWII while attending school in an internment camp for Japanese and German Americans.We follow both girls through their eighteen months in the camp as well as after even though the friends never saw each other again until they were older adults. They tried to connect with each other, but they never were able to. At this time in their lives A friendship made in an internment camp during WWII that lasted only eighteen months, but bonds and memories that lasted a lifetime.Elise and Mariko met during WWII while attending school in an internment camp for Japanese and German Americans.We follow both girls through their eighteen months in the camp as well as after even though the friends never saw each other again until they were older adults. They tried to connect with each other, but they never were able to. At this time in their lives, Elise was suffering from dementia, and she found out Mariko was dying from stage four breast cancer. Even though Elise had trouble remembering things, she remembered enough to find Mariko, to get on a plane, and to find her before they both were no longer alive.THE LAST YEAR OF THE WAR is a marvelous history lesson and a testament to enduring friendship and learning lessons and making decisions. The subject matter wasn't light, but it was wonderful learning more about this time in history. I actually wasn't aware of all that happened. It is very obvious that Ms. Meissner did extensive research and perfectly fit the facts into her book.If you enjoy historical fiction and Ms. Meissner's books, you will want to make room on your bookshelf for THE LAST YEAR OF THE WAR.As all of her books, the beautiful flow of Ms. Meissner's writing and her attention to detail make the book a treat to read. 5/5This book was given to me as an ARC by the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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  • Amy Bruestle
    January 1, 1970
    I was sent this book after winning it from a giveaway, to read in exchange for an honest review. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Wow! I am at a loss for words...this book was probably one of the best books that I have read in a LONG time. Full of meaning. Full of life. Full of everything that a book should be full of! I could go on and on about how much I loved reading this, or about how much is actually incorporated into this novel, but I am just going to keep it short and recommend that you all find out for yourself! Yo I was sent this book after winning it from a giveaway, to read in exchange for an honest review. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Wow! I am at a loss for words...this book was probably one of the best books that I have read in a LONG time. Full of meaning. Full of life. Full of everything that a book should be full of! I could go on and on about how much I loved reading this, or about how much is actually incorporated into this novel, but I am just going to keep it short and recommend that you all find out for yourself! You will NOT be disappointed by any means!Only a few minor grammatical errors throughout, but other than that, an amazing novel! Please check this book out once it is released! You will LOVE it. I know I did. Rarely do I have feelings this positive after reading a book. I almost feel like this book changed me. Who am I kidding, I KNOW that it changed me! Changed me for the better! I can’t stop thinking about it. I really hope the author writes a sequel...maybe about Pamela and Teddy...and life from their point of view. Or make a movie out of it! That would be awesome too!
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    Last year I fell in love with Meissner’s gorgeous writing style after reading As Bright As Heaven and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her latest book. I’m beginning to realize she has a knack for writing about specific historical topics that are not common and anytime I can learn something new while I’m reading I’m excited!This follows Elise, an American girl whose parents are German immigrants and is told solely from her point of view and spans over the course of almost her entire life. I kn Last year I fell in love with Meissner’s gorgeous writing style after reading As Bright As Heaven and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her latest book. I’m beginning to realize she has a knack for writing about specific historical topics that are not common and anytime I can learn something new while I’m reading I’m excited!This follows Elise, an American girl whose parents are German immigrants and is told solely from her point of view and spans over the course of almost her entire life. I knew next to nothing about German Americans being sent to internment camps during WW2 and the way Meissner uncovered this piece of history for me was simultaneously heartbreaking and beautiful. The majority of the story takes place during the war but there are a few key chapters set in 2010 that added a certain gravitas to an already profound story.This had the feel of an epic saga that explores so many themes and issues, from the unbreakable bonds of family to deep, true friendship and even some romance. I was wholeheartedly invested in Elise’s life and experienced such a wide variety of emotions throughout, the ending even made me teary eyed and I’m NOT a crier, definitely one that gave me all the feels. Highly recommended for HF fans!The Last Year of the War in three words: Hopeful, Poignant and Affecting
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  • Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely breathtaking. Beautifully told and so heartbreaking lovely, The Last Year of the War is a book that will not only open your eyes but touch your soul.Poignant, heart wrenching, and so very moving, it is a book that I am so very glad I took the time to read. Meissner has always impressed me with her beautifully written and thought out stories but she truly stunned with this The Last Year of the War.I can't even begin to explain how touching this story was and how much it both moved and Absolutely breathtaking. Beautifully told and so heartbreaking lovely, The Last Year of the War is a book that will not only open your eyes but touch your soul.Poignant, heart wrenching, and so very moving, it is a book that I am so very glad I took the time to read. Meissner has always impressed me with her beautifully written and thought out stories but she truly stunned with this The Last Year of the War.I can't even begin to explain how touching this story was and how much it both moved and resonated with me. One I will soon not be forgetting and one I know I will be thinking on for days, weeks, maybe even months after. *ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
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  • Nikki
    January 1, 1970
    **2.5 stars rounded up**Heavy sigh. Heavy, heavy sigh. The Last Year of the War is the story of Elise and Mariko, who first meet in Texas in 1943 at the height of WWII. Both Elise and Mariko are young girls, born in America. Their parents are from Germany (Elise) and Japan (Mariko). Although both families have been in the U.S. for many years, unfortunate circumstances coupled with mistakes and past connections lead to both families ending up at an internment camp in Texas. Here, Elise and Mariko **2.5 stars rounded up**Heavy sigh. Heavy, heavy sigh. The Last Year of the War is the story of Elise and Mariko, who first meet in Texas in 1943 at the height of WWII. Both Elise and Mariko are young girls, born in America. Their parents are from Germany (Elise) and Japan (Mariko). Although both families have been in the U.S. for many years, unfortunate circumstances coupled with mistakes and past connections lead to both families ending up at an internment camp in Texas. Here, Elise and Mariko meet and befriend one another. Their lives continue to be turned upside down and eventually take them in separate directions, as the girls vow to meet up when they turn eighteen. But life continues to take them for rides they do not expect. I had such high hopes for this novel. Sadly, I could not connect to this one, and I fought the urge to skim. The idea of the novel is great, however, the story fell flat. I felt this book had more of a YA feel to it. I have no problems with reading YA books, however, it's not what I expected going into this particular novel. I also struggled with the back half of the book, trying to grasp the storyline. It was a bit melodramatic, with pieces of the story being all too convenient and unrealistic, in my opinion. I really, really wanted to love this one. I have enjoyed reading Meissner's books before, and her last novel, As Bright As Heaven, was one of my favorite books last year. In all fairness to the author, I perhaps was a bit jaded going into this one. I loved As Bright As Heaven, placing it on a book pedestal, which may have skewed my expectations going into this latest one. Overall, this book did not do it for me, but I will definitely continue to read Meissner and hope to connect with the next one!
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 Stars rounded downI hate rating this book so low, but I never could quite get into it and never connected with the characters or the plot. I even set the book aside for a few weeks after trying to read it for over a month hoping that trying to read it fresh would give me another perspective...no luck! I felt throughout the book that Meissner was doing much too much telling me what she wanted me to know about her story instead of showing me, and that became very tedious. As much as I wanted t 2.5 Stars rounded downI hate rating this book so low, but I never could quite get into it and never connected with the characters or the plot. I even set the book aside for a few weeks after trying to read it for over a month hoping that trying to read it fresh would give me another perspective...no luck! I felt throughout the book that Meissner was doing much too much telling me what she wanted me to know about her story instead of showing me, and that became very tedious. As much as I wanted to feel emotions about what was happening to Elise and Mariko at the internment camps, I'm afraid that I didn't, which says a lot since I'm a huge crier. I really think the book would have been better if it had been told as a dual narrative. I'm definitely an outlier with my feelings about The Last Year of the War, so make sure you read all the 4 and 5 Star reviews! I still haven't read As Bright As Heaven by Meissner, but I plan on it since I've heard it's much better.Thank you Edelweiss and Berkley for the ARC copy. All opinions are my own. *A Traveling Sisters read
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  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    I have read and loved Susan Meissner’s other books but The Last Year of the War is her best work yet! Flashing from present day to World War II, The Last Year of the War is a beautiful, compelling story of hope and strength as the world around seems to crumble. A must read for historical fiction fans!
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Sue Meissner's upcoming release, and once again she knocks it out of the park. Here's what I wrote for my blurb:In her latest novel, Susan Meissner is at the top of her game. With characters who leap from the page, Meissner uses a lesser-known chapter in history to weave a story that is fearless, empathetic, and wise. THE LAST YEAR OF THE WAR is powerful and at times chillingly contemporary, and it reminds us why we read historical fiction in the f I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Sue Meissner's upcoming release, and once again she knocks it out of the park. Here's what I wrote for my blurb:In her latest novel, Susan Meissner is at the top of her game. With characters who leap from the page, Meissner uses a lesser-known chapter in history to weave a story that is fearless, empathetic, and wise. THE LAST YEAR OF THE WAR is powerful and at times chillingly contemporary, and it reminds us why we read historical fiction in the first place.
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  • Kristina McMorris
    January 1, 1970
    I had the honor of reading Susan Meissner's latest novel for a cover quote, and absolutely loved it: “A beautifully poignant tale, THE LAST YEAR OF THE WAR explores the complexities of love, friendship, and the fleeting truths of identity. With vividly drawn characters and ever-elegant prose, Meissner highlights a dark, often-overlooked piece of American history. This timely novel will stay with the reader long after its thoughtful, heartwarming conclusion.”
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  • The Lit Bitch
    January 1, 1970
    I have only read two novels by Susan Meissner but she is an author that I am constantly following. She has written a number of books with content that is right up my alley, so when this book came up for review, I jumped at another chance to read one of her lovely books!The subject matter sounded interesting and unique which in of itself would appeal to me but I was also interested in how it was going to unfold. A lot of times war time books are often turned into historical fiction, heavy on the I have only read two novels by Susan Meissner but she is an author that I am constantly following. She has written a number of books with content that is right up my alley, so when this book came up for review, I jumped at another chance to read one of her lovely books!The subject matter sounded interesting and unique which in of itself would appeal to me but I was also interested in how it was going to unfold. A lot of times war time books are often turned into historical fiction, heavy on the romance. This book sounded like it was going to be more about friendship than romance.Frankly I wanted something ‘meatier’ and more than just another WWII novel. Now I love a good war time romance, but something like this sounded new and fresh so it was easily a ‘yes’ for me when the book came up for review so many months ago! Not to mention the cover art screams read me!As a historian, I love all things history—-especially when authors pick up on an untold history. Meissner hits the nail on the head with this one! She couldn’t have picked a better topic! Japanese American Internment Camps are something that I don’t know a whole lot about and I can’t think of a single book that looks at this time in history. It was absolutely captivating!The historical research done by the author is commendable and will offer readers a new perspective on WWII. This book was a deep and emotional novel and I think shows incredible emotional depth. I could visualize the camps and the characters let off the pages. I loved this book the more that I got into it.It did start a little on the slow side for me but as I got into the story and characters more, I felt that it dd pick up quite a bit. There is a lot of historical info for the reader to process, but for someone like me—it wasn’t boring. Others might feel that it’s heavy on the history side and perhaps it is, but for me I love historical details and authenticity which Meissner certainly brought to this one.I think this book is going to be a huge hit. Meissner writes about a topic that is new and refreshing and not just ‘another WWII novel’. It’s memorable, emotional, and elegant. You do NOT want to miss out on this one! See my full review here
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  • Dianne
    January 1, 1970
    What makes a book unforgettable? It’s the author’s ability to make us feel, to transport us into a world where we can feel everything, where we become the characters, we become invested and emotionally attached. In the case of THE LAST YEAR OF THE WAR by Susan Meissner, we see the human side of one of history’s darkest and most heartbreaking moments and we become as terrified and unsure as the characters we are reading about. We forget they are not real, because they could have been and thousand What makes a book unforgettable? It’s the author’s ability to make us feel, to transport us into a world where we can feel everything, where we become the characters, we become invested and emotionally attached. In the case of THE LAST YEAR OF THE WAR by Susan Meissner, we see the human side of one of history’s darkest and most heartbreaking moments and we become as terrified and unsure as the characters we are reading about. We forget they are not real, because they could have been and thousands of “real” humans lived the nightmare of mass hysteria, war and the atrocities it brings. World War II was a time when neighbors suspected neighbors because of their ancestry, their birthplace and the government fueled those fears, spearheading the atrocities of camps to round up foreign-born citizens, completely making a mockery of the lady that stand in New York’s harbor.This story is told in flashbacks as an elderly woman fights to maintain herself while dementia steals her essence as she boldly seeks out her best friend from her past, the only light in the internment camps her family was forced to live in. This is Elise’s story, it hurts, it hits like jackhammer in your gut and yet, it is a thing of raw beauty and you WILL remember it.I received a complimentary ARC edition from Berkley Publishing Group!Publisher: Berkley (March 19, 2019)Publication Date: March 19, 2019Genre: Historical FictionPrint Length: 397 pagesAvailable from: Amazon | Barnes & NobleFor Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com
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