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February 22, 2023

An Enemy Like Me by Teri M. Brown ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts 

"War.  It was such an ugly word.  Small but powerful.  These three letters pitted nation against nation, men against men.  But from her vantage point, war did something far worse.  It trapped men between the love of their country and the love of their family, their wives, and their children.  How was a good man, a man with strong values, supposed to choose between the freedom of his country and the love of his family, in particular, when it appeared one couldn't exist without the other."
(chapter 20)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of historical fiction novel An Enemy Like Me by Teri M. Brown
January 2024; Atmosphere Press; 978-1639885459
ebook, print (328 pages); historical fiction

Most WWII-era fiction is about the soldiers on the battlefield or the resistance working behind the scenes to do their part to win the war.  An Enemy Like Me looks at how a soldier going to war affects not only the soldier but also his family and the repercussions to all of them during the rest of their lives.  

This beautifully written story is about the Miller family and their lives from the 1930s to present day.  Jacob is the son of German immigrants who work hard delivering groceries in a predominately German town in Ohio.  When he meets Bonnie for the first time, he knows that he will eventually marry her.  Bonnie is the very spoiled daughter of a wealthy couple who has lost their money.  When she first meets Jacob, she feels that he is beneath her and not worth her time but after getting to know him better, she discovers that he is the perfect person for her.  They marry and their son William is born.  When World War II begins, there is a huge backlash in America against German immigrants...if they are German, they must support Hitler.  Many people didn't realize that they loved America and hated what the Nazis were doing in Europe.  Jacob felt that he had to join the Army to prove his allegiance to America but Bonnie begged him not to leave her.  After a few years of guilt at staying safe at home, he joins the Army when William is 4, and Bonnie and her son move in with her parents.  The war and the fighting affect Jacob tremendously - especially when he realizes that he is killing Germans who may in truth be relatives.  When he returns from war, he is a very different person and suffering from what we refer to now as PTSD.  The changes in him dramatically affect his wife and son and the son feels the results of the changes in his father for the rest of his life.  The story is told in three voices -- Jacob, Bonnie, and William with William's voice partly in the present day as he looks back on his parents and tries to better understand his father and the changes that his time at war made to him and to the life of their family.

Instead of writing a graphic description of the war, the author instead concentrates on the effect of the war.  Jacob felt that he had to fight to prove he loved America but was deeply affected knowing that he was fighting against the country of his ancestors.  Bonnie is so in love with her husband and fears that he will never return.  And William misses his wonderful father and doesn't understand why the man who left for war returned completely different.  It's an emotional story that hopefully will make readers stop and think about all of the wars and fighting going on in the world and that they are not being won or lost by the countries who are fighting but by the ordinary men and women who fight and the families that they have left behind who continue to support them. 

I highly recommend this emotional and beautifully written novel.  I know that I won't forget the well-created characters or the struggles that they went through.

Buy An Enemy like Me at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.  

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