Sunday, December 23, 2018

Defiant Optimism

Dear Mrs. BirdDear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Young Emmy is awfully perky but endearingly earnest and naive, and adult cynicism just can't stand up to the onslaught. She gets over her head when a seemingly small deception piles up complications. It's London, during the Blitz of WWII; Emmy has landed an internship with a newspaper and dreams of being a brave war correspondent. But really she's hired to be the assistant for the advice columnist of a tired women's magazine.

Mrs. Bird won't give advice that's really needed, keeping her column to beauty advice and admonitions to keep calm and carry on. Love advice? Fear of bombs? Out of ration cards? That Sort of Thing is Not Acceptable — and goes in the trash.

Emmy is our window into the daily struggles and joys that continue on in people's lives, even and especially when there's a war on. She's got a huge heart, and wants to help people. So in addition to "war work" volunteering, of course she answers letters from the trash bin … and of course the lesson of growing up is that helping people, even with good intentions, is never as simple as it seems.

With a great balance of sentiment, reality, and humor, the author reveals the grit and grace beneath the calm when bombs fall and break your life apart. Because they do.

This book reminded me why we have such nostalgia for WWII. It might have been the last war of idealism, for nowadays we know war has touched us all in some way — all around the globe. Many of us exist because of parents and grandparents who met during a war or because of a war; despite the wars to end wars, war's ongoing all the time.

But in all our different ways what we, as individuals, fight for is each other. We want there to be naive young men and women and children who don't go to bed hungry and happy lovers. Life does go on in the midst of tragedy and loss, and life is good. Whether we fight with words or guns, no matter the motives of war-makers — the mission in most soldier's hearts is peace.

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