Come from Away

Written by Genevieve Graham
Review by Val Adolph

The phrase ‘come from away’ is used in the east coast of Canada to indicate someone who has arrived from a distance. This might be 100 miles or half a world away. When Grace Baker meets Rudy, she knows he has ‘come from away,’ but does not at first realize that he is the enemy. This is 1942, and he is German, the only survivor of a U-boat sunk near Grace’s home.

Rudy struggles to a cabin, trapping and trading pelts for supplies at the general store where Grace works. Gradually she falls in love with him but is shocked to discover that he is not only German, but also part of the U-boat crew. Influenced by news media of the time, by rumours emphasizing the cruelty of the enemy, and also by the fact that two of her brothers have been injured in the war, Grace turns her back on Rudy.

Yet Rudy risks his own life to save the life of Tommy, one of Grace’s relatives who also sees him as the enemy. All three young people slowly come to realize that goodness can exist in all people – even those thought to be ‘the enemy.’ When Rudy is forced to leave the safety of the trapper’s cabin to bring Tommy to a doctor, he knows he could be giving up his freedom and facing a long incarceration, as well as revealing himself as German to the woman he loves.

This novel presents a warm and understanding look at the attitudes of an earlier time. The young people espouse the views of the day wholeheartedly and are ready to stand up and even sacrifice for their beliefs. Can older heads, with more life experience, help them to greater understanding? Perhaps this is a novel for our time.