4 out of 4 stars
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I Loved Her Enough: Chance, Tragedy, Love, and Fresh Air by Diane Lane is the story of Eilleen Jandreau, a five-year-old child living in severe poverty in New York City during the Great Depression. It's a love story that will make you laugh one moment and cry the next as you follow this little girl's journey.
Eilleen Jandreau and her sisters, Jene, and Marie, lived in New York City with their Grandmother Anna, who worried something would happen to her while the girls were still too young to care for themselves. By chance, an opportunity came for Eilleen to take part in a two-week vacation program. The Fresh Air Fund sent needy children to spend two weeks with a host family, allowing them to see life outside of the city; Grandmother Anna agreed. Because of a series of mishaps (or were they?) at the train station, Eilleen was soon on her way to the adventure of a lifetime, spending two weeks with Sarah and Bayard Wharton. The Whartons fell in love with little Eilleen and showered her with gifts and attention. They got permission for her to stay for the summer. When they took Eilleen home, Sarah and Bayard were devastated. How would she ever be able to live in such severe poverty again? How would Sarah and Bayard cope without Eilleen? Three hearts have broken—will they ever mend?
Diane Lane wrote a poignant story based on the childhood of her best friend's mother. Lane's writing was exquisite. As she takes the reader into the home of Grandmother Anna, Eileen, Jene, and Marie, the reader discovers the tragic circumstances in which they lived. The contrast between Eilleen's living arrangements at home in New York and the life she found herself in with the Whartons during the summer emanates off the pages. Bayard Wharton had shown no interest in having children, so his feelings blindsided him when Eileen came off the train and ran straight into his arms.
What I liked most about this book were Lane's descriptions of Eileen's adventures. The story evoked memories of my childhood. As Lane describes Eilleen's first time seeing a field of cows, watching the ocean waves, eating in a restaurant, and her first carousel ride, the reader can feel the excitement of a five-year-old girl as she experiences a carefree life for the first time. I could feel Eileen's emotions as her life went from one extreme to the next.
There isn't anything I disliked about this book. It is exceptionally edited with no errors. Diane Lane executed the story beautifully. The book gives a vivid picture of life during the Great Depression. It takes natural talent to immerse a reader into a book to the extent they feel they are there with the characters. I am rating this book 4 out of 4 stars for the reasons listed above and more.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the Great Depression and those who love a touching story filled with emotion. There are very few profane words and no sexual content, so this book is suitable for young and old alike.
I Loved Her Enough
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