Under the Same Blue Sky

Written by Pamela Schoenewaldt
Review by Holly Faur

As WWI storms across Europe, Hazel Renner’s Pennsylvania family becomes a dreaded “hyphen” – shunned in the place they’ve called home simply for their German bloodline. As grievances escalate, Hazel, determined to find some peace in the world, takes a teaching job in a small town, where she is mysteriously equipped with healing powers. But the power quickly wanes, leaving the town angry and a man dead. Back at home, her father is losing himself in grief for the war’s amassing dead, and when Hazel unexpectedly learns the truth of her birth, she leaves again for a strange castle from her memory in hopes of learning about her mother. From castle gardens to broken, war-torn Germany, Hazel finds tragedy and hope, and the love of a fragile man.

Pamela Schoenewaldt shows the struggles of a German-American family during the war in a compassionate, though tough, light. We feel for the innocent people of Germany pitched into war, and the men and women on all fronts who were left scarred from its horrors. Hazel Renner is a curious, determined heroine who in the end finds not only herself but also the love of others along the way.

The writing is deftly done, the research thorough and informative. Because of Hazel’s many travels, at times it is difficult to feel grounded or invested in a particular story point, and we are left pondering the mysterious powers, but in all, this is a lovely story with a suitably accomplished ending.