Long Way Home
1946. Peggy is living with her father and working at his auto shop, but spends much of her time helping out at the Barnetts’ veterinary practice across the street. She regularly visits her good friend, the Barnetts’ son Jimmy, who was hospitalized due to a suicide attempt after his service in World War II. Determined to help Jimmy, Peggy begins looking for other soldiers who served with him in the war, and for the woman, Gisela, whose picture was among Jimmy’s possessions.
1939. After the Nazis begin to persecute and murder the Jews, Gisela and her family are put on a ship, the St. Louis, and given passage to Cuba, which had agreed to allow them to settle there. But the ship is turned away in Cuba, and Gisela begins a journey that will end at Buchenwald, where she meets a young American medic named Jimmy.
Lynn Austin has given us another well-woven and meticulously researched historical saga. This dual-timeline novel is set both during and after World War II, and slowly entwines the lives of two young women who are connected by a young soldier. We witness the heartbreaking voyage of the St. Louis as the captain tries in vain to reach a safe harbor, and we see the terror of Jews trying to hide in Nazi-occupied territories. We are shown the horrors of World War II and the struggles of survivors to move forward. A Christian crisis of faith is explored, and primitive mental health surgical practices of the 1940s are brought to light. Long Way Home takes us across the sea and back again, into concentration camps and even to small American towns on an unforgettable journey through the evil of war and the love that brings us through it.