While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austin
October 1st 2010 by Bethany House
Paperback, 400 Pages
In an unassuming apartment building in Brooklyn, New York, three lives intersect as the reality of war invades each aspect of their lives. 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, waits for the war to end to hear what has happened to his son trapped in war-torn Hungary. But during the long, endless wait for victory overseas, life on the home front will go from bad to worse. Yet these characters will find themselves growing and changing in ways they never expected--and ultimately discovering truths about God's love... even when He is silent.
If you would like to read the first chapter of While We're Far Apart, go HERE.
Three families. Three tragedy's. And love that will heal all their hearts...........
Its 1943 during WWII, Eddie Schaffer and his two children, Esther and Peter live in a small apartment upstairs from their Jewish landlord, Jacob Mendel. Both men are dealing with the loss of their wives, who were killed together in a car accident a year ago and Jacob is also grieving over his missing son, last seen in Hungary. Jacob is so angry he blames everything on God and stops practicing his faith. Eddie having trouble coping with Rachel’s death go's a different way to escape his pain and in the hopes that his mother will take over caring for Esther and Peter enlists in the Army. Of course when Eddie springs the news on grandma Schaffer she freaks, already having her other two sons in the war, she cannot bear the thought of Eddie leaving or caring for two small children.
Fortunately for Eddie, Penny a long time friend and girl who has always loved him steps forward and offers to watch the kids while he’s away. Eddie agrees and Penny moves in to take over the home and the care giving once he deploys to England. Penny has her own set of problems though, not only does Esther resent her, but Peter has gone mute and will not speak. Her parents who are controlling, demeaning and demanding are angry with her for moving out and she loves a man who doesn’t love her back. Terrified of the outside world and what it means to really be on her own, taking care of Eddie’s kids is a shock and a wake up to reality, a reality she has never been able to enjoy due to her parents short leash. When troubling secrets begin to come out about Penny’s life, she finally begins to grow as woman, facing the issues and standing up for herself change her dramatically throughout the story and the outcome you would expect happens for her once she is able to see what a special gal she is and is able to bond with Esther and Peter.
There's no denying the lovely writing of Austin’s pen and the story certainly held strength in the coming of age theme with Penny and Esther, both different ages one 13 one 24, but seemingly at certain life changing points, they both go through a growing up period and getting over the grief in their hearts. The beginning of the novels pacing is pretty slow and there is a lot of character development throughout the story. The introduction of three main characters and a countless number of side characters the reader deals with: Racism, violence, hoarding, emotional baggage, emotional and verbal abuse, Jewish and Christian doctrines, war, abandonment, severe grief, PTSD and teen pregnancy. That right there with all the struggles going on made for a very in-depth look at the lives of these people......however with all the personal journeys happening, there was so much to get through that I felt many side plots were left unresolved and the ending too rushed. Regardless of that issue I had with the book, While We're Far Apart was a lovely story that essentially bound the characters together through the pain of loss. While spending time together looking for the missing and feeling lost without a family, they soon realize the family they built amongst themselves. A story that will make you smile, make you want to smack some of them and even shed a few tears.
While We're Far Apart is suitable for all readers and recommended to those who enjoy Christian Fiction or wholesome drama. While remaining free of graphic content, topics include: War, Violence, Arson, Death, Rape, Abandonment, grief, adoption and romance.
It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority. Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge. Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.