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Rogues & Remarkable Women

The Last Year of the War

The Last Year of the War, March 2019
by Susan Meissner

400 pages
ISBN: 0451492153
EAN: 9780451492159
Kindle: B07DZW5X3K
Hardcover / e-Book
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"A heartbreaking story about a young girl's experiences in 1940s America..."

Fresh Fiction Review

The Last Year of the War
Susan Meissner

Reviewed by Magdalena Johansson
Posted March 21, 2019

Women's Fiction Historical

Elise Sontag's life changes drastically in 1943 is sent, together with her family to an internment camp in Texas. Her father, who has been a legal US citizen for almost twenty years, is accused of being a Nazi sympathizer. Elise meets Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American girl at the camp and they form a close bond, despite that not all people around them approve.

THE LAST YEAR OF THE WAR is a bittersweet story about two young girls' friendship. Elise Sontag is an old woman, on her way to see Mariko Inoue for the first time in many years. Once they were the best of friends and Elise tells us the story of her youth through recollections. Her life before her father's arrest and then as they were sent to the camp. And, how she formed a close friendship with Mariko Inoue. Now Elise Sontag hopes to have one last chance to see her old friend again.

Susan Meissner latest book is a strong book about how American citizens with roots in foreign countries are sent to internment camps during WWII. Paranoia is running rampant throughout the US and whole families are sent away if the whiff of espionage is found. It's also a story about two teenage girls who spent time in an internment camp and their lives there. I found THE LAST YEAR OF THE WAR to be engrossing and heartbreaking to read. This book is especially strong thanks to it being told from a teenagers perspective. Then, we have a parallel storyline with Elise as an old woman looking forward to seeing her best friend again. That story is just as good and I found myself taken with both storylines. A book a warmly recommend!

Learn more about The Last Year of the War


From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and As Bright as Heaven comes a novel about a German American teenager whose life changes forever when her immigrant family is sent to an internment camp during World War II.

Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943--aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.

The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.

But when the Sontag family is exchanged for American prisoners behind enemy lines in Germany, Elise will face head-on the person the war desires to make of her. In that devastating crucible she must discover if she has the will to rise above prejudice and hatred and re-claim her own destiny, or disappear into the image others have cast upon her.

The Last Year of the War tells a little-known story of World War II with great resonance for our own times and challenges the very notion of who we are when who we’ve always been is called into question.

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