Saturday, 26 July 2014

Review: When The World was Young by Elizabeth Mallory Gaffney

Wally Baker is no ordinary girl. Living in her grandparents’ Brooklyn Heights brownstone, she doesn’t like dresses, needlepoint, or manners. Her love of Wonder Woman comics and ants makes her feel like a misfit—especially in the shadow of her dazzling but unstable mother, Stella.

Acclaimed author Elizabeth Gaffney’s irresistible novel captures postwar Brooklyn through Wally’s eyes, opening on V-J day, as she grows up with the rest of America. Reeling from her own unexpected wartime tragedy and navigating an increasingly fraught landscape, Wally is forced to confront painful truths about the world—its sorrows, its prejudices, its conflicts, its limitations. But Wally also finds hope and strength in the unlikeliest places.

With an unforgettable cast of characters, including the increasingly distant and distracted Stella; Loretta, the family’s black maid and Wally’s second mother; Ham, Loretta’s son, who shares Wally’s enthusiasm for ants and exploration; Rudy, Wally’s father, a naval officer, away serving in the Pacific; and Mr. Niederman, the family’s boarder, who never seems to answer Wally’s questions—and who she suspects may have something to hide—Elizabeth Gaffney crafts an immersive, beautifully realized novel about the truths that divide and the love that keeps us together.

ebook, 320 pages
Expected publication: August 5th 2014 by Random House

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Random House via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is August 5, 2014.

This is not going to be a long review because I feel this is one of those stories that needs to tell itself rather than me sharing my thoughts about it.  It was a wonderful story that follows Wally from the time of her childhood until young adulthood.  It tells the tale of how the decisions that people make have impacts to others that form their future relationships and paths.

This story has a great cast of characters.  Wally was an inquisitive and interesting child.  Ham and Loretta were wonderful support and their side story equally interesting.  The story of Stella was sad yet I couldn't get enough.

Add to this the time-frame of the story starting at the end of WW11 and the Korean war and racial inequalities it created a rather compelling story.  This is not a book of adventure or where a lot happens.  Instead it is a well written coming of age story with a strong female character.  It is about the emotional growth of characters as they attempt to conquer the world when they have questions about where they came from and what happened in the past.

I really really liked this book

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