It’s time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book.
Tomorrow marks the 69th Anniversary of VE day- Victory in Europe at the end of World War II. World War II continues to be a popular time period to read about and see in the movies. This can be explained for a few reasons:
1) It is far enough away from today that it feels historic.
2) It is close enough that we’re amazed such things could have happened.
3) There are countless stories to be told.
Although there are many books in this particular time period, I’d like to discuss two today.
Jack Cavanaugh’s Dear Enemy and Elizabeth Wein’s Rose Under Fire, both present a heart-wrenching story set in Europe during WWII. Both of them also involve chocolate. Years after reading Dear Enemy, it is still Christmas Eve in the forest with chocolate that I think of. Months after reading Rose Under Fire, I still think of Hershey chocolate and Rose. I also think of the song “Make New Friends”, because I’m a lifetime Girl Scout and a recipient of the Gold Award and so that was particularly memorable to me. Chocolate functions, though, for an even wider audience as a catalyst.
Why is this? Chocolate is enjoyed by many, but for us chocolate is also commonplace. In the war, it was gold- absent for many, until the allies arrived. It has even been said that American soldiers became sick of chocolate, because it was all that some of them were able to eat following D-Day, since it was the preserved ration in their supplies.
Chocolate also conjures instant images. For most people, it’s welcomed and a pleasant food to savor. This stands in stark contrast to the unpalatable reality of war. This juxtaposition heightens everything unfavorable about war, while also making an era that most of us did not live through, instantly recognizable- at least in how it tastes. That is the secret to good historical fiction – caring about the characters and forming a realistic connection, even if their events are far removed from the readers’ lives.
The next time you take a bite of chocolate, perhaps you’ll pause to remember the atrocities that millions overcame for VE Day and its lasting peace to happen.
My best to you all,