*Review in the Middle of the Page
1940 When Rosie loses her mother and is sent to Sri Lanka to live with her mother’s friend Silvia and her three sons, her world changes in a heartbeat. As she is absorbed into the bosom of a noisy family, with boys she loves like brothers, she begins to feel at home.
But the war in Europe is heading for Asia. Searching for comfort from the bleak news and the bombings, Rosie meets a heroic soldier on leave, and falls in love for the first time. Yet the war will not stop for passion; he must move on, and she must say goodbye, knowing she might never see him again. She is left with just a memory.
Meanwhile, one by one, the men she considers brothers leave to fight for their island paradise. As she waits in anguish for letters that never come, tortured by stories of torpedoed ships and massacres of innocent families, she realises that she, too, must do her bit. Rosie volunteers to work in military intelligence, keeping secrets that will help those she loves and protect her island home. But then two telegrams arrive with the chilling words ‘missing believed captured’ and ‘missing believed dead’. Who of those that she loves will survive the devastating war, and who will she lose?
BONNIE READS AND WRITES (REVIEW)
Those I have Lost is a captivating coming of age journey set mostly in the area now known as Sri Lanka before, during, and after World War II. Sharon Maas once again portrays characters and settings that will leave the reader spellbound. We travel through Rosie’s life, from the loss of her mother to her new life with her mother’s wealthy friend Silvie, her joy and heartbreak, and the travesty of war. Rosie longs to be a doctor above all else, and faces strong pushback against a woman becoming more than a wife at that time. We also see how love and war can change our best laid plans.
Sharon Maas once again introduces us to an unforgettable story that will sweep us away to a time of war and a place of beauty, loss, and danger. Maas conveys landscapes we can see and feel, emotions that sweep us away, and characters who show us their very souls. This description of Rosie playing her flute by a waterfall sweeps the reader into all of these at once: “It was a small pool, a narrow waterfall, but the sound made by water entering water was simply delicious; so soothing, so fresh and clear and pure, the constant splash pleasing to the ear and to the heart, seeming to wash away all cares. That sound formed a backdrop to my playing. Like an unbroken flow of oil, it provided a steady baseline upon which I could improvise a thousand tunes, each one as new and original as the dawning day.” This is just one example of a book filled with beautiful imagery combined with vibrant characters that will take the reader on a journey into life and war that will be unforgettable.
This is a unique take on a World War II novel, as we see it from the perspective of a girl in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), watching as Japan devastates Southeast Asia and then arrives on her shores. I learned so much from this perspective that I hadn’t known before. I highly recommend this book to others who want to see sides of World War II that expand us to different horizons that were also devastated by war, but not as well publicized.
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