ISLAND OF SWEET PIES AND SOLDIERS is Sara Ackerman’s debut historical fiction novel. The novel is set in Hawaii during 1944. It was published on February 13th 2018 by MIRA.
It is 1944 – World War II continues to drag on with no end in sight, prejudice continues to mount against the Japanese living throughout the Hawaiian island, and Violet Iverson’s husband has been missing for a year. Violet has no idea what might have happened to Herman, but she suspects that her ten-year-old daughter, Ella, might know something. Ella is an anxious child with a big secret – she knows what happened to her father, but she is too afraid to come forward because she is afraid that it will cause her to lose her mother as well. Violet and Ella are trying to move on with their lives, but it is hard to do when such an important person’s fate remains a mystery. Violet keeps herself occupied by teaching at the local school, baking pies for the soldiers training nearby, spending time with her friends, helping her daughter, and falling in love with a soldier. Unsure of her developing love for Sergeant Parker Stone, Violet becomes even more determined to discover the truth about her husband.
ISLAND OF SWEET PIES AND SOLDIERS is a beautifully written novel set in Hawaii during World War II. The novel is rich in historical details, and Ackerman brings the time period and location to life. The novel may be set during World War II, but it is more than a war story. Yes, the war plays a huge factor in the novel – there are soldiers training for combat in the Pacific and the mounting prejudice against the local Japanese affects the Iversons’ close friends who are of Japanese descent. Ackerman has the prejudice against the local Japanese as one of the main themes in the novel – Violet and Ella are friends with many of their Japanese neighbors who are being ill-treated by other Hawaiians and the soldiers who view them as the enemy. ISLAND OF SWEET PIES AND SOLDIERS is also about personal strength, friendship, and love – romantic love, platonic love between friends, and the love between a mother and her child.
The novel is told in dual narratives – Ella’s straightforward and childlike first-person perspective and Violet’s third-person perspective. As Violet questions what happened to her husband and worries about how his disappearance has negatively affected their daughter, Ella deals with the emotional and mental turmoil of knowing what happened to her father and fearing what could happen to her and her mother should she come forward with the information. Ackerman parcels out Ella’s story of what she witnessed on the day her father disappeared, dropping hints along the way until Ella finally breaks down and tells her mother what happened. Wanting to find out what happened to Herman was just one of the many factors that kept me engrossed in the novel.
THE LIEUTENANT’S NURSE is Sara Ackerman’s second historical fiction novel. The novel is set in Hawaii immediately before and after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It will be published on March 5th 2019 by MIRA.
It is late 1941 – the United States has not yet entered World War II, though many expect the United States to soon join the Allied Forces. Everyone expects the Japanese to launch an assault in the Pacific, but no one suspects that the attack will be to the US Naval Fleet that is stationed in Pearl Harbor…Following a tragic incident that has ruined her reputation and nearly her life, Eva Cassidy volunteers as a nurse for the Army Corps. Leaving everything behind in Michigan, Eva makes her way to Hawaii for what should be a relatively easy assignment. Eva is traveling across the Pacific on a luxury ocean liner. On board is an attractive lieutenant named Clark Spencer. While the two develop a romance, Eva questions her feelings for the man who is waiting for her in Hawaii and Clark is distracted by radio signals that place the Japanese naval fleet north of the Hawaiian Islands. Upon arrival in Hawaii, Eva and Clark go their separate ways. The attack on Pearl Harbor – and their knowledge that the Japanese were headed towards the Islands – pulls them back together.
The novel is told in the dual, third-person perspectives of Eva Cassidy and Lieutenant Clark Spencer. Eva’s sections in the novel include flashbacks to the incident back in Michigan that nearly ruined her life and was the reason she joined the Army Crops nursing division. Ackerman also includes real communications, headlines, and memos from before and after the attack on Pearl Harbor. While the two main characters would not have known about any of these messages or memos, they do provide the reader with information about the events that took place. Like Ackerman’s first novel, ISLAND OF SWEET PIES AND SOLDIERS, THE LIEUTENANT’S NURSE is a beautifully written novel. The novel is rich in historical details, and Ackerman brings the time period and location to life. Ackerman does not bog the reader down with extensive details about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Instead, Ackerman focuses on Eva’s and Clark’s experiences throughout the attack – including many scenes that take place in the hospital, including surgeries and recovery.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.