Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Review: Home Front Girl by Joan Wehlen Morrison

Title: Home Front Girl: A Diary of Love, Literature, and Growing Up in Wartime America
Author: Joan Wehlen Morrison
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Publish Date: November 1, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the PR; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're a history fan.
  • You like non-fiction that reads like fiction.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Wednesday, December 10, 1941

“Hitler speaks to Reichstag tomorrow. We just heard the first casualty lists over the radio. . . . Lots of boys from Michigan and Illinois. Oh my God! . . . Life goes on though. We read our books in the library and eat lunch, bridge, etc. Phy. Sci. and Calculus. Darn Descartes. Reading Walt Whitman now.”

This diary of a smart, astute, and funny teenager provides a fascinating record of what an everyday American girl felt and thought during the Depression and the lead-up to World War II. Young Chicagoan Joan Wehlen describes her daily life growing up in the city and ruminates about the impending war, daily headlines, and major touchstones of the era—FDR’s radio addresses, the Lindbergh kidnapping, Goodbye Mr. Chips and Citizen Kane, Churchill and Hitler, war work and Red Cross meetings. Included are Joan’s charming doodles of her latest dress or haircut reflective of the era. Home Front Girl is not only an entertaining and delightful read but an important primary source—a vivid account of a real American girl’s lived experiences."

My Two Cents:

When I was younger, I loved books like Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl and Zlata's Diary (a diary of a girl growing up in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War). The first is very well known and the second is not as well known. What they have in common is that they are both important books showcasing the way that people lived during really difficult times in our shared history. Home Front Girl is a book in that same tradition.

Joan is a young girl growing up around Chicago during World War II. The book covers from before the United States entered the war until near the end of the war. Joan is wise beyond her years and makes a lot of really interesting observations throughout the book. Her diary is a fairly thorough documentation of both what normal, everyday life was for an American teenager before the war. It also documents all of the changes that the country went through once the war began.

This book will appeal to both those who are history buffs as well as those who usual read more Historical Fiction than actual history. The diary is compulsively readable and would definitely be a good crossover for readers who really don't usually pick up non-fiction.

Bottom line: A great historical read!


  1. It would be interesting to hear an American girl's perspective of WWII, and how life really was during that time period.

  2. I love it when non-fiction reads like a fiction book. Also, this book seems like it would be fun to compare to my grandmother's stories of WWII in the US.

  3. Glad to see you enjoyed it, as I'll be reading it soon. I love historical diaries.


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