Wednesday, May 25, 2022

‘In Love and War’ weaves heartaches and triumph in author’s debut novel

In Love and War,bra Short Novel by Chris McClelland is a debut drama, set before and during WorldbrWar II, which explores the distinction between friend and foe.


Mack McInnisbrmeets Inga Kaufener in Florida in 1933, when they’re both 10 years old, andbrtheir friendship blossoms into romance in their senior year of high school.


Inga’s Germanbrfamily had moved to America to escape the consequences of Hitler’s rise to power,brbut as the possibility of war between Germany and the United States becomesbrincreasingly likely, she encounters scorn and distrust from her peers. In 1941,brwhen American involvement in the war seems inevitable, Inga’s father, Juergen,brdiscovers that he’s suspected of being a German spy. He decides to move hisbrfamily back to their homeland in order to ensure their safety.


In Inga’sbrabsence, heartsick Mack listlessly sleepwalks through his college experience,brfinally dropping out to retreat to a cabin in the woods and suffer in solitude.brWhen he’s drafted, he insists on not fighting Germans, but because he hasbrexperience piloting crop dusters, he’s assigned to a B-17 that’s tasked withbrbombing German sites—including Weimar, where he knows that Inga currentlybrlives.


Meanwhile, Ingabrrealizes that she’s pregnant with Mack’s child and marries a local boy in orderbrto save her family from dishonor. Even though her brother was conscripted tobrfight in the German military, she secretly works for the resistance movementbropposing Adolf Hitler.


McClellandbrdeftly follows several characters whose lives are involuntarily turned upsidebrdown by war and who are compelled to fight. He provocatively raises profoundbrquestions about how one defines and compartmentalizes allies and enemies andbrthe ways in which duty forces one to make difficult decisions.


McClelland’sbrunembellished prose is confident and self-assured throughout, and the subjectbrmatter is as philosophically challenging as it is emotionally poignant. Abrsharp, moving reflection on how love can survive even the greatest trials.

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