In an unassuming apartment building in Brooklyn, New York, the lives of three people intersect as the reality of war invades every aspect of their world. Young Esther is heartbroken when her father decides to enlist in the army shortly after the death of her mother. Penny Goodrich has been in love with Eddie Shaffer for as long as she can remember. Now that Eddie's wife is dead, Penny feels she has been given a second chance and offers to care for his children in the hope that he will finally notice her and marry her after the war. And elderly Mr. Mendel, the landlord, desperately waits for the war to end so he can learn what has become of his son who is trapped in war-torn Hungary. During the long, endless wait for victory overseas, life on the home front becomes very difficult, and in these unlikely circumstances, Esther, Penny and Mr. Mendel will grow and change in ways they never expected.
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Customer Reviews for While We're Far Apart, Large Print
I agree with another reviewer that the book seemed to move slow at first while the author is providing background on the characters and situations. But, my advice is to persevere! This is a great read. There are wonderful relationships between people who are thrown together by the war, finances and family. It is not overly religious, but has wonderful spiritual overtones and depth. I especially loved the relationship between the Jewish neighbor with the two Christian children.
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Review 2 for While We're Far Apart, Large Print
This review is fromWhile We're Far Apart.
Excellent story line
Date:March 14, 2012
This was a slow read at the beginning but as I got into the story, I couldn't put it down. It addressed prejudices so well.
I really enjoyed this book. The characters are very likable and the story moves quickly. You get to see everyone grow, both in maturity and in faith. Ms. Austin does a wonderful job helping to "feel" that you are in the WWII era. I will be recommending this to friends and looking for more of Ms. Austin's books to read.
It is 1943 and the world is at war. Everything is changing and Penny Goodrich, isn't happy with all the changes. Penny is just a young girl with a little brother and a daddy, Eddie, who is choosing to go off to war to serve. Penny lost her mother in an accident and her father just isn't the same. He feels that if he goes off to serve he can find some sort of peace in all this mess. The only other family Penny has is her grandmother. A grandmother she isn't really close to. Her daddy wants to leave Penny and her brother with her as he goes off to war. Penny finds herself terribly upset. I would be too. I couldn't understand why this man, this daddy, had to go away and leave his children. But he was missing his bride and lost in his emotions that were running deep.
Next door to Penny's, Grandmother Shaffer, lives Esther. A lonely woman, who lives with her parents still. Although she works, she is devoted in caring for her parents. Parents that haven't given her much encouragement. Only words to hold her back. But as the story unfolds you begin to understand the fear that lies in her parent's hearts. Penny has had a crush on Penny's father for as long as she can remember. He doesn't really know she is alive. In a heart's beat, Penny, offers to stay with the children while he is off to war. Her parents don't understand this decision and Penny is none to happy about it. In fact, she is downright mean to Penny.
As Esther moves in to watch the children we meet the landlord who lives down below. Mr. Mendel is Jewish. I love this part of the story. We get to see not only the Christian view, but Lynn Austin, intertwines the Jewish faith. We all need a neighbor like Mr. Mendel. He too is hurting. Every character seems to be hurting in some way. But we see all these characters grow and we see Christ come alive in each of them.
It was the title, "While We're Far Apart", that caught my attention. The cover is beautiful and the story is one that will captivate your heart. I couldn't put this book down. It was one that I just took my time with. The characters were so real and I could feel their pain. But I too rejoiced with them. If you are looking for a summer read, this one is for you. I have now become a huge fan of Lynn Austin. What a gift.
What did I love? Through this story we meet, Peter, Penny's brother. Once his daddy leaves for war he simply stops speaking. Everyone is afraid something is wrong with him, but there isn't. He is simply silent. I learned throughout these pages that sometimes we must be silent to hear. Just as others had to be patient waiting for Peter to speak, we too must be patient as we wait upon the Lord.
I am a huge fan of historical fiction. This is one that simply takes us back in time and brings to life the stories of each character that you will not soon forget.
This book was a gift from Bethany House for it's review.
I have read a number of Lynn Austin's novels, and for the most part, this book is an easy read. The plot is heart wrenching, particularly when it comes from the very people unable to get out of Nazi ravaged Hungary. The sticking point is the main character. While she recognizes and confronts many issues that have brought her to the place where she is, there seems to be something lacking. The story plods along but lacks intensity or passion. I struggled to identify why I wasn't totally satisfied at the end of the book, and the only thing I can come up with is that for the hard-core issues addressed, the emotions evoked have the intensity of flat ginger ale.
I love Lynn Austin's writings, she knows how to bring historical fiction to life. I always love her characters and the time periods that are brought alive, but this one struck me as odd. The "main character" is Penny, but I don't like her. I thought, "Really? Why such an unlikeable character? I really want to like this book but not with this character!" I did stick with the book and it soon became evident that the real story was about Penny's transformation throughout the story. It turns out that Lynn has done it again and created a beautiful story of journey set in the later part of WWII and seen through the eyes of Esther and Peter (a brother and sister whose mom has died and whose dad enlists for the war), Penny (the family neighbor who volunteers to take care of Esther and Peter while their dad is gone) and Jacob Mendel (the children's Jewish landlord who lives in the first level of their house and whose wife died in the same accident as their mother). These 4 all undergo change as they endure the end of WWII. Excellent book!
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Review 11 for While We're Far Apart, Large Print
This review is fromWhile We're Far Apart.
The story is beliveable
Date:November 6, 2010
The author make the people in the story real that you knew them and you can feel their emotions. The book does need the jewish words defined.
I enjoyed this book all the way thru. It was rich with the history of that time period. You could not help but feel the deep emotions of all these characters. They were all in places of turmoil and decisions not always easy to make. When we think or read of the horrors of WWII, it is always an emotional journey. When we read the awful, evil things that happened to the Jews and to the soldiers. There is no words but Lynn did a wonderful job with this book. The love and forgiveness poured out also. It was just a well written novel. I recommend this book to everyone. Keep them coming, Lynn.
While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austin is another stunning historical novel in the author's oeuvre. Eddie Shaffer has enlisted in the military to escape the constant reminders of his late wife Rachel in their apartment, much to his two children's: Esther, 12 and Peter 9, dismay. Penny Goodrich has been in love with Eddie since they were children so she jumps at the opportunity to care for his children while he is gone in hopes that he will finally fall for her. Esther is angry at Penny's interference, and Peter stops talking with Eddie's departure. But Penny begins to flourish outside of her parents' suffocating guilt and attacks on her self-esteem, but her new job leads her to information that shatters her sense of identity. Austin is the premier historical fiction writer in Christian fiction today. Her novels are filled with three dimensional characters in poignant plots that bring history to life. Her writing is always insightful and the stories compelling as well as faith-filled.
I have been anticipating the release of While We’re Far Apart for a few months and the novel lived up to my expectations. Lynn Austin delivered yet another thought-provoking, engaging, and multi-faceted novel. Like Austin’s earlier A Woman’s Place novel, While We’re Far Apart examines the lives of several different characters during World War II, but I found this novel to be much more engrossing and moving. Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the three main characters: Esther, a motherless 13-year-old child whose father enlists in the war; Penny, a sheltered young woman who takes a risk and volunteers to care for Esther and her younger brother Peter, and Mr. Mendel, a Jewish widower whose son and extended family are living in Hungary and experiencing persecution. As the characters face inevitable life changes, they are forced to overcome fears, prejudices, and cruelty and confront secrets that they did not know existed. Can they embrace these changes and trust God to see them through times of uncertainty and grief?
While I was reading the novel, I often found myself thinking that the plot would make an excellent movie. The characters were realistic and well-developed and although the story was told from several different perspectives, the plot flowed seamlessly and the lives of the main characters tied together to create a moving and intricate snapshot of life during the tumultuous years of World War II. I would have enjoyed a slightly longer epilogue to conclude the stories of the main characters since I found myself wondering about their lives a few years later. I hesitate to call that a flaw, however; I believe that I wondered about the character’s futures because I began to care about them throughout the novel. Only a talented author can create characters that readers truly care about. That is why Lynn Austin remains one of my favorite authors! I highly, highly recommend this book.
I just finished this book last night and it was wonderful! Lynn Austin has again delivered a wonderful story in which you get so involved in all of the character's lives. This book is a must read, very good factual history included during World War II. It is amazing how she ties the history into her story. Read and enjoy!