Review first appeared in School Library Journal, November 2016.
LEECH, Caroline. Wait for Me. 384p. Harper Teen. Jan. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062459886.
Gr 8 Up- In 1945 Scotland during WWII, Lorna Anderson is tending to the family farm alongside her father while her older brothers are fighting at war. Her mother passed away when she was young, leaving Lorna to grow up quickly, assuming some motherly responsibilities in the household. Lorna’s initial uneasiness upon meeting Paul, a German solder with a badly burned face assigned to work at Craigielaw Farm, turns into a mutual respect and friendship. Then, a forbidden romance begins: the daughter of a Scottish farmer and a German prisoner of war. Tension between Lorna and her best friend Iris increases as each grow into young women and fall in love for the first time. Lorna longs for an end to the war, but the end is bittersweet, as her future with Paul is uncertain. Though missing his mother and younger sister, Paul is unsure whether he will have a home to return to after Dresdyn was left in ruins. Even though the war moves slowly, the narrative flows quickly as readers are immersed in the innocent love of Lorna and Paul. Leech includes historically accurate details, and a helpful notes section as well. Fans of Ruta Sepetys and Laurie Halse Anderson will enjoy Leech’s debut novel. VERDICT Historical fiction, forbidden romance, and a coming-of-age tale combine into a memorable story perfect for young adults. Recommended as a first purchase for all libraries.
I’m so glad to have read this book. It reminded me a little bit of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, which is also a beautiful WWII story that I have reviewed previously. I had no idea that during WWII, German prisoners of war were used for farm labor in the states, while many of the American farmers and their sons were fighting in the war. The Cherry Harvest takes place in Door County, Wisconsin, home to many cherry orchards. The Christiansen family’s young son Ben is away at war, leaving a teenager Kate, mother Charlotte, and father Thomas to work the orchard without any workers available, as in years past. Because of the war, food and many common luxuries (such as coffee and scented soap) are scarce and if the orchard isn’t harvested and tended, the Christiansen family might not be able to keep their farm running. They decide to allow German POW’s to work on the farm, against the wishes of many of the other townspeople. Thomas befriends one of the POW’s named Karl, a teacher who is well versed in English and appreciative of the Christiansen family allowing him to live and work on the property. As Karl tutors young Kate and becomes closer to Thomas and Charlotte, decisions are made that will forever impact the family. Meanwhile, young Kate starts a secretive relationship with a rich son of a political figure. When the family receive news of the long awaited return of their son Ben from war, the story unfolds quickly and sadly. Be prepared for a heart-wrenching ending. Even with the ending being sad, I really got lost in this story. The writing was beautiful. The author described the cherries and all the things on the orchard in vivid detail, making it seem like the reader was there seeing everything in person. The story has just the right amount of romance, humor, suspense, and heartbreak. You won’t be sorry for reading it!