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July 25, 2023

What We Leave Behind by Christine Gallagher Kearney ~ A Review

by Susan Roberts

What We Leave Behind
is a World War II book of a different kind.  Instead of taking place during the war, it takes place after the war starting in 1947, and shows the effects of the war on a German war bride who emigrated to the United States.  Even though the war is over, the memory of her days in Germany during the war continues to affect the way she views life in America.

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

book cover of historical fiction novel What We Leave Behind by Christine Gallagher Kearney
July 2023; She Writes Press; 978-1647424930
audio, ebook, print (256 pages); historical fiction 

In 1947, Ursula arrived in Minneapolis.  She speaks very little English but her husband is waiting for her and promises her a new and better life in America.  She really tries to live her life as an American housewife but she's met with lots of obstacles - her mother-in-law won't accept her and is very rude to her, her neighbors treat her differently and no matter how hard she tries, she's consumed with guilt - guilt over leaving her parents behind in Germany.  She just knows that if she can get pregnant, her life will change for the better but she can't conceive and her husband refuses to see a doctor.  She makes friends with other war brides and starts working and her life is starting to get better despite the lack of a child when she contacts polio.  She spends almost a year in the hospital regaining her strength with her husband continuing to be the bright spot in her life.  As she regains her strength, she makes a new friend with her roommate at the hospital where they are both working hard on their goal to walk again.  When she returns home, her life has changed but with the love of her husband, she is able to feel good about her life in America.  When her husband suddenly dies, she knows that she has to learn to depend on the survival skills that she learned during the war.  Will Ursula be able to overcome all of the obstacles in her life and create a happy life for herself in America?

Ursula is a strong and tenacious woman -- even she isn't aware of her strength.  After facing life in Germany, her goal is to create a happy life in America with her new husband.  She faces obstacles at every turn but is strong enough to overcome them and continue working toward a better life.  The author says at the end of the book that Ursula is based on her grandmother and that writing the book brought her closer to the memory of her.  Ursula and her strength and determination to make a better life for herself in America create a story that I will long remember.

Buy What We Leave Behind 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.  You can connect with her on Facebook.

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