3 out of 4 stars
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Stories that feature World War II have the propensity to be heartwrenching, dramatic, and occasionally gory. Such a traumatic part of the world's history certainly deserves a special spotlight, as do the troops who sacrificed their lives on both sides. But the Thorns Had Roses by Lynn Jones is a different kind of war story.
Glenda Erickson grows up in Minnesota, and she spends her childhood with only her younger brother, Herb, as a companion. As the children of an abusive, alcoholic father and an emotionally absent mother, Glenda and Herb must essentially raise themselves. Adulthood comes quickly, and Glenda grows up to be strong and independent. She falls in love with a kind and supportive man, and they decide to move to his hometown of Popcorn, Indiana. However, Glenda's happily ever after comes to a grinding halt when both her new husband and her beloved brother are sent away to fight in the war. How will she adjust to life as a stranger in a new town? Will her husband and brother survive the war and come home to her?
I was extremely pleased to find that this novel is truly a relaxing, enjoyable, feel-good book. Rather than focusing on the harsh realities of the war, it looks more deeply at smalltown life and the everyday occurrences that would have been common in 1940s America. While the war does leak into the story a bit, it does not overshadow Glenda's journey of self-discovery in Popcorn at all.
The author put quite a bit of work into character personalities and histories, so the town that Glenda enters with her husband feels very established and complete. This book cannot be called fast-paced by any means, but the reader can become invested in the story very easily. I was especially drawn to the many intricacies of Glenda's character. As an emotionally battered child, she has trouble placing her trust in others, and watching her evolve throughout the story is gratifying.
My only critique for this story is that it does not appear to be professionally edited. The errors aren't terribly prevalent, but they should have been easy to catch while proofreading. Due to the number of mistakes, I give this novel a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. There is a small amount of profanity, but there are no sexual undertones at all. Lovers of wartime fiction may or may not enjoy this book; it depends on how dedicated they are to reading about the actual events of World War II. However, anyone looking for a relaxing, low-stress novel that contains a smattering of romance might find But the Thorns Had Roses to be right up their alley.
But the Thorns Had Roses
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