Farewell and Two Historical Fiction Books to Keep you Thinking

February 3, 2019

I always have a hard time figuring out how to begin any columns I write for Joplin Public Library. This time it is even more difficult to know what to say. This will be my last column and book review on behalf of Joplin Public Library.

The day you read this will be my last day as director at Joplin Public Library. I have just completed nine years of what has inarguably been the most interesting years of my employment. The years have run the gamut of emotions and stretched me in ways I never anticipated.

In the way life frequently happens, I was not seeking a change. It was my full intention to stay with Joplin Public Library until I was led away in my dotage. An opportunity came my way, however, that changed that and is allowing me to come full circle in my life.

My undergraduate degree was awarded by Ozark Christian College on North Main Street. The “new” library facility opened there my freshman year. When I saw they had an opening in the library, I saw a chance to “dial back” my life a bit, yet come and work where my adult life began.

I will be beginning as Access Services librarian (fancy librarian term for making sure folks can get what they need) there. Leaving Joplin Public Library is definitely bittersweet. I have learned much and met so many terrific patrons and staff that leaving and beginning again isn’t easy. Yet the opportunity allows me to come full circle with my life in a way I hadn’t dreamed of.

I will miss Joplin Public Library and hope the feeling is mutual.

Now, I’d better tell you about a book!

I’ve read two books by Melanie Dobson this month that captured my attention and intrigued me. I have always enjoyed historical fiction, and especially fiction taking place during the World War II era, specifically during the Holocaust. Visiting Auschwitz when I was in college left an indelible imprint on me, making me want to learn more, both through fiction and non-fiction writings.

Both CATCHING THE WIND and HIDDEN AMONG THE STARS are set with dual time and storylines. There are storylines in the present-day setting that intertwine with the past. Both books had intricate plotting that kept me thinking, trying to figure out what was what and how the stories in each weave together to make one.

CATCHING THE WIND tells of Daniel Knight, who has searched for nearly 70 years for his best friend, Brigitte, whom he helped escape from the Gestapo after both their sets of parents were arrested. A long, harrowing and dangerous journey for the 13 and 10 year old gets them to England, where they are promptly separated. He never reneges on his promise to try to find her. But can he keep that promise?

HIDDEN AMONG THE STARS tells of Callie Randall, who runs a bookstore and discovers a cryptic list in a first edition of BAMBI. Her search for information leads her to take risks, discover past secrets, and find information that changes lives forever. Changes for the better? Or changes for the worse?

I read both books in audiobook format through Hoopla. Joplin Public Library also carries them in print format. The audiobook narrator was quite good. I don’t care for the narrators who read quite well, but in a sickly sweet voice. Give me a narrator whose voice changes for characters and situations. Nancy Peterson narrated these two books that way and did a great job.

These two books were the sort that had me sitting in the garage for five minutes more of the story, or driving more slowly on my commute home. Tempting as it was to listen at my desk, I managed to resist that.

If you enjoy historical fiction with a hint of intrigue, danger, and romance, as well as an inspirational bent, you will enjoy these books.

Thank you for allowing me to bend your ear about my reading habits for the past nine years. I will never forget the experience.

Reviewed by Jacque Gage