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Source: Review copy from Independent Publishers Group
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Tuesday, August 6, 1940

I’ve been remembering how last year before war came there still was the half-hope that war would not come. And now all the brave words are rotten and we know we were fools to believe them and I know the words are rotten and illusions that lie.

(from Home Front Girl, page 140)

Home Front Girl is comprised of journal entries by Joan Whelen Morrison found after her death in 2010 by her daughter, Susan Signe Morrison, who edited this collection.  The book chronicles Joan’s coming of age in the days before and during World War II, from 1937 when she was 14 to 1943 when she was 20.  The subtitle, “A Diary of Love, Literature, and Growing Up in Wartime America,” describes the book perfectly.

Like a typical teenager, Joan writes about crushes and kisses, and there’s the usual teen melodrama and school woes.  Since the diary was penned during her high school and college years, there’s a lot of talk about her classes.  It was interesting to see how she was influenced by the books she read, and there was a serious side to Joan in which she shared deep thoughts about war, life, immortality, and religion.  In fact, she actually wrote her journal entries believing that they would be read by others some day.

However, I didn’t think it was much of a “home front” book, at least not in the way I was expecting.  Joan followed the reports of war long before the U.S. got involved, but there are only a handful of entries after Pearl Harbor.  I was a bit disappointed that there was nothing about what it was like to live in the U.S. during wartime, i.e. rationing, etc., but the inclusion of photos, sketches, and poems helps make up for it.

Home Front Girl is a charming book about being a teenager in the late 1930s and early 1940s.  From these entries, it’s easy to see Joan was intelligent, funny, vivacious, well liked, and thoughtful.  What a treasure for her daughter to find these writings after her death, as through them Joan lives on.  Readers of all ages will find much to like in these pages and might even be inspired to write their own stories for future generations to ponder.

Disclosure: I received Home Front Girl from Independent Publishers Group for review.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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