While We’re Far Apart

Written by Lynn Austin
Review by Rebecca Cochran

Austin has once again penned a delightful, heartwarming, yet wrenching story about World War II and the life-altering effects war causes. In 1943 New York City, grieving for his deceased wife, Eddie Shaffer announces to his family that he has enlisted and will soon be departing for war. His children, Peter and Esther, are heartbroken and unreasonably angry with plain Penny Goodrich, who agrees to watch the children while he’s gone. Penny has long harbored a secret crush on Eddie and hopes that by watching his kids, he’ll fall in love with her. Nothing could be farther from the truth as Penny deals with her demanding parents, the resentful Shaffer children, and learning to assert her own independence. When Peter stops talking, and Esther begins hanging out in the apartment of her neighbor, Jacob Mendel—a scary old Jewish man—Penny fears she will never make headway.

Austin not only describes the difficulties facing women workers and the transformations that took place on the home front, but the religious prejudices and racism of the times. Readers not only see Penny’s viewpoint, but also gain insight and perspective from Jacob Mendel, a Jew who finds hatred and prejudice everywhere he goes. Readers will be drawn immediately into this eloquent story that explores the beliefs, struggles, and dearest wishes of both Christians and Jews. The pages turn quickly as each character finds out what it means to be in the midst of war, how to rely each other, and how to overcome religious differences and unfounded hatred.