On the eve of her 16th birthday, Alice-Ann plans to tell her brother's best friend Mack of her love for him, but the bombing of Pearl Harbor disrupts her plans. With the country headed to war and Mack enlisting, Alice-Ann extracts a promise from him to write--and hopefully over their correspondence they'll both fall in love. When Mack's letters inexplicably cease, Alice-Ann is waiting for the worst. During the days of unknowing, her best friend's brother Carlton is shipped home, gravely injured, and Alice-Ann agrees to visit and read to him during his long recovery. Carlton becomes an unexpected friend, and as their friendship turns to something more, Alice-Ann will have to decide who her one true love truly is.
Set on the homefront in WWII, it depicts the the hardships of those at home--the anxiety of waiting to hear from loved ones, the devastation to the whole town at a death. I could just hear the southern Georgia drawl in the dialogue, and the author brings the sweltering southern setting to life.
Sweet and gentle, the story takes its time. I wasn't surprised by the direction it takes, or any of the twists, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment. It's less a romance and more a coming-of-age story. Oddly, there were moments that reminded me strongly of Gone With the Wind, and it wasn't just the Georgia setting and background of war. For all that both physically and personality-wise Alice-Ann is the direct opposite of Scarlett O'Hara, there were several moments in their respective romances that paralleled each other. I suppose in large part it's because both girls have some growing up to do to learn the difference between infatuation and love. They each have their "Ashley, I love you" moment, and the moment they have to choose who they truly love.
And as Aunt Bess says, "You can't choose who you fall in love with, but you can choose who you marry." Thankfully Alice-Ann has Aunt Bess for advice (Scarlett surely could have used her!)