This biographical novel centers around Gerda Vogel and her family, both the family into which she was born and the family she creates with her husband Fritz. Set in Nebraska in 1918 and 1919, the story illustrates the ways in which World War I and the influenza pandemic impacted life on the Great Plains.

Ms. Shoemaker crafts very compelling characters, and as a lifelong resident of Nebraska, I was quickly drawn into their world. As someone of German heritage, the fear and hatred of Germans caused by the War was especially unsettling. Don't be fooled by the novel's length; the text and imagery packed into the 220 pages is dense (in a very good way).

I enjoyed everything about the novel except the ending which wrapped up too neatly for my taste. However, since the author based Gerda and Fritz on her grandparents, it's good the book followed their life story.

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