4 out of 4 stars
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On October 16, 1940, George and his friends answered the call for enlistment by registering with the local draft board as per the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940. By 1943, the previous exemptions were lifted because there was a rising need for men to serve in the war; after three years, George received his draft letter. In 1944, he and many others left for Italy immediately following a furlough after completion of training. He had only seen his young daughter on two separate occasions, at eight days and five months.
In 2012, Laura retired from her long career in academia and had time to pursue new interests, which included writing. She did not hesitate when her writing class instructor suggested she follow her father’s movements during World War II. One Daughter's Quest: Following My Father’s Bootprints in Italy During World War II is the journey of Laura Smail Sims as she retraces her father’s movement during the Italian Campaign after seventy-two years.
With assistance from her son, Jonathan Sims, Laura plans for an incredible journey that will see them visit numerous places in Italy and encounter living angels who are fundamental for the expedition’s success; they provide invaluable information and guidance. Will it be easy? No. But this is what makes the whole memoir absorbing from the outset; it is an emotional journey driven by love that results in tears and reverence for hallowed grounds that remind us about the sacrifice of those who fought valiantly; some, like George, paying the ultimate price.
The author’s writing skills are excellent; it is easy to follow the story. Additionally, the juxtaposition of the various places presently and during the war era was mesmerizing. For some places, nothing much had changed except for increased development; Naples was still as frenetic as her father had described years earlier in his regular letters, which were generally upbeat. Equally, as an ardent lover of history, the inclusion of brief descriptions of the Italian Campaign and its prelude was a welcome addition.
The book is suitable for anyone who would like to view WWII from the perspective of a war orphan; it is a gripping, inspiring story of love. I am certain many readers will appreciate the strong family bond in this story; George loved his family to his last breath, and Laura and Jonathan's love for George is evident throughout.
I found no unlikable aspect in the book. Laura's passion in One Daughter's Quest is unique; her determination sees her organizing an almost impossible mission that requires in-depth research. It is one thing to visit a place and learn about the battles fought there, but the feelings evoked when you know your father was there are more charged; the author demonstrates this in her book. I heartily award this book a rating of four out of four.
One Daughter's Quest:
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