A first rate novel that is well worth reading.... Smith has the unique ability to take a long forgotten story and craft it into a page turner.... She’s found an important but forgotten postscript in America’s past and has written a compelling historical novel that confronts racism, class and economic differences as well as government bureaucracy. Smith conveys all of these topics through story and characters rather than a soapbox, and her subtle approach has far more impact than the histrionics of any television or radio pundit.
A moving novel [that] gives readers a detailed and colorful description of life during the interim between the War to End All Wars and the next world war that quickly followed. . . This is not simply a story of grieving mothers but a story of America—rich in the lives of each of the characters who raise small boys to become part of the dream but instead bury them in a faraway land.... The questions are posed: How do we achieve peace? What are the costs of war? Can freedom and patriotism co-exist in America? And, for us in this century, how are our lives richer for the sacrifices of those who served before us?
Lorinda Hayes - Pittsburgh Post
Smith writes with great depth of detail and of emotion, giving voice to these Gold Star Mothers who traveled from America to their sons’ graves in France.
Historical Novel Society
[A] touching story, set in the 1930s, of Gold Star Mothers—the mothers of fallen U.S. service members—visiting their sons’ graves in France.... Smith captures the mothers’ interactions in beautiful detail and delves into the government’s not-entirely-altruistic reasons for sponsoring the trip. Several plot threads, however, are unresolved, leaving the reader wanting more at the end of this captivating read.
What initially feels like a straightforward and heartwarming road trip novel becomes more complicated as the women draw nearer to their destination and squabbles over class and personality differences give way to increasing criticism of the government and military bureaucracy. Though some later plot developments are a bit far-fetched, Smith...artfully maintains a generally warm tone while also allowing her characters to ask hard questions about the war and its consequences.
(Starred review.) [A] heartfelt glimpse into a little-known episode in U.S. history, the journey taken by mothers of U.S. soldiers fallen in WWI to visit their sons’ graves in Europe. Smith focuses on five mothers whose sons were buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France. Their unofficial leader is Cora Blake, a single mother from Maine.... Smith’s foray into historical fiction is captivating and enlightening. —Deborah Donovan
During the early 1930s, the U.S. government arranged for grieving "Gold Star Mothers" to visit the French burial sites of their sons killed during World War I.... While the line-by-line writing is engaging, this take on historic events is made shallow by broad brush strokes and lots of heartstring pulling.
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