I'm thrilled to review my friend and fellow World War II fiction author, Kristina McMorris's debut novel, Letters from Home. Kristina is a delightful person and a wonderful writer.
At a Chicago USO club dance, college student Liz Stephens meets handsome farmer-turned-private first class Morgan McClain. She tries to ignore their instant attraction since she’s already got her life mapped out: a career as a literature professor and marriage to her longtime boyfriend.
When Liz sees Morgan dancing with her roommate, pin-up worthy Betty Cordell, she tries to forget the whole thing. But Betty asks poetic Liz to ghostwrite Morgan a letter, and Liz reluctantly agrees. Unfortunately, flighty Betty heads off to New Guinea to work as a WAC nurse and tosses Morgan’s memory aside. When a return letter from Morgan arrives at the girls’ Chicago home addressed to Betty, Liz can’t stand the thought of not answering it and resumes the correspondence.
Pretty soon, Morgan and Liz become regular pen pals…except Morgan thinks he’s writing to Betty and not the gorgeous brunette he met—and fell for—at the USO dance. Meanwhile, Julia must choose between her sailor fiancé and a career in fashion while coping with the battle scars of her future brother-in-law. Betty discovers nursing in a tropical location isn’t as glamorous as she hoped with all the bugs, blood, and death, but an Australian airman provides a welcome distraction.
McMorris does a swell job of incorporating vibrant details of the home front into her characters’ everyday lives and manages to convey the gritty realism of war in the European Theater without lapsing into hyperbole. Not all story threads are neatly tied at the novel’s end, which may disappoint some readers, though others may find it symbolic of how war never leaves lives in neatly wrapped packages