Perhaps no novel since A Seperate Peace has so superbly captured the impingement of a world at war upon a safe and sheltered environment. The place in Mendoza, a small oil-refining town thirty miles east of San Francisco. The time encompassed is World War II, from the bombing of Pearl Harbor until the bombing of Hiroshima. The narrator and heroine of the story is the fierce yet enchanting Suse Hansen. In the intervening four years, we watch with compassion as Suse evolves from a tomboy who wishes to be a trapeze artist to a young person whose moral growth has been as remarkable as her blossoming womanhood. In Suse's perceptions of the war, in her ability to reconcile her unfolding knowledge of human nature with the horrors of the news reports she so anxiously follows, we see a growth that is all the more dramatic for the subtlety and awe with which it is portrayed.
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To ten-year-old Suse Hansen, the fighting in Europe seems far away from the blue skies and quiet streets of her Bay Area home in Mendoza, California—despite newspaper war photographs and the tense radio broadcasts. But Pearl Harbor changes everything. Caught up in the fear and uncertainty of air raid drills, draft calls, and the mysterious departure of her Japanese and Italian neighbors, Suse becomes obsessed with the war.
As Mendoza and the rest of America adjust to their new lives, Suse, too, will face challenges of her own as she begins to navigate the uncharted terrain of adolescence. Over the next four years she will confront the complexities of life—the demands of school, evolving friendships, brothers and sisters leaving home, the disturbing thrill of sexual awakening—while trying to understand who she is and what the future may hold for a world consumed by the horror of war.
A rediscovered classic, Rumors of Peace is an extraordinary coming-of-age story chronicling the loss of American innocence through the voice of one remarkable young girl.About the Author:
Ella Leffland is the author of five books, including the critically acclaimed The Knight, Death and the Devil. She lives in San Francisco.
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