4 out of 4 stars
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Crazy Quilt Family by Vivian McDermott is a novel set in rural Montana during World War II. It can be categorized in the Historical Fiction genre. Liz Baxter is heartbroken when her boyfriend Drew gets drafted and then breaks up with her. Just a few weeks shy of her eighteenth birthday, Liz discovers she’s pregnant while Drew is overseas, and makes the difficult decision to put the baby up for adoption. In order to keep the pregnancy a secret, she goes to stay with her grandmother Mazelle a hundred miles away. Liz struggles to get over Drew and is grief-stricken over giving up her baby. What will happen when Drew comes home from the war?
It didn’t take long for me to become completely absorbed in this book. The descriptions are so vivid that I felt like I was transported to small-town Montana in the 1940’s. The main character is an appealing young woman who fortunately has a supportive family to turn to during a crisis. Her emotions leap off the pages as she frequently cries herself to sleep, thinking of Drew and the baby she gave up. The relationships between the members of Liz’s family are very heartwarming, and Mazelle’s neighbor Anna, a midwife, is also a great source of comfort.
The book moves along at a consistent pace with a nice chunk of emotional scenes tempered by practical, “get on with it” parts. In the second half, the plot changes from being Liz-centered to more of a family saga. Even though I still enjoyed the rest of the story, Liz becomes more of a supporting character which I didn’t expect. There are also a few instances where the storyline abruptly jumps ahead in time and I had to reorient myself.
Small details add a nice depth to the plot. Drew and Liz each kept a journal of their lives during a stressful point in their lives – while he was in combat and she had given up her baby. These diaries become little plot twists (no spoilers!), in addition to giving readers a peek into the couple’s feelings about their traumatic situations. There are also interesting revelations about their parents and grandparents’ backstories which lend a realistic feel to the supporting characters’ interactions and motivations.
My gripes are relatively few. A few of the plotlines are tied up too neatly. I sometimes felt like I was watching a Hallmark Channel made-for-TV movie where serious issues are a bit whitewashed.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It is a well-written page turner that would appeal to readers who enjoy historical fiction and stories about small town life. Really anyone would like this story.
Crazy Quilt Family
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