A few weeks ago I received an ARC of Pocket of Guilt by Dora Lee Thompson. It was certainly an interesting book to read.
From the back cover:
The Schulz family, all members of the Mormon church, is trying to survive in Germany, during and after WWII.
This book is told from several different viewpoints, with the emphasis being on the children. It’s a tale geared toward the YA reader, especially those who have a particular interest in historical events. I see it being something that would really appeal to the teen boy and an adult audience who favors this genre. Ms. Thompson takes great care to both educate and entertain, then helps the reader sort out the fact from fiction by providing references for her findings (always a plus in historical fiction). The storyline also follows the entire conflict and the years after. It’s not just one tiny segment, it helps the reader put the whole picture together appropriately.
I enjoyed the way she wove the different lives in out of each other. I was impressed that the struggles portrayed were realistic and not rose-colored. It was important to me to note that the dilemmas the families faced were tough, not easy to get out of, and that the right decisions were not always made. I think it’s important to keep things real. We don’t always make the right choice. We may not even know what it is. We do ignore promptings when we are overwhelmed by circumstances. But most importantly, just like the characters in Pocket of Guilt, we all have opportunities to learn from and resolve our mistakes with the Lord’s tender mercies.
Did I have any sniveling complaints with Pocket of Guilt? A couple. I wish that the story could have been tightened up and shortened a little. The size of the book doesn’t seem very intimidating until you open it and look at the print—it’s tiny and the paragraphs tend to be long—not necessarily a good thing if you are dealing with reluctant readers, which most boys are apt to be, or older readers.
Also, I was a tad surprised by the list price of Pocket of Guilt. I think it might cost Ms. Thompson some private sales, which is unfortunate. This is a title that I would suggest lobbying hard for it to be purchased by your local schools and libraries. To me, that’s where the investment will have the greatest return.
Pocket of Guilt has good things to offer and a unique perspective to share, so I’m definitely rooting for it to make it into the hands of those who can most enjoy it. Good luck, Dora Lee Thompson!