When We Meet Again used a little known fact in America’s history as the premise – the holding of German POWs in Florida during World Wart II. This book was very surprising to me. I expected that it would be similar to so many other novels with split narrations in different time periods about love under the pressure of war, but it was so much more than that. In the present, Emily was an absolutely lost soul. Her father abandoned her at an early age, her grandmother and mother were recently deceased, and she was haunted by the daughter she gave up for adoption and the love of her life that she walked away from. That all might sound terribly depressing, but her grandmother’s past brought new hope to Emily’s life, such that this book was an intricate and uplifting family drama.
When Emily received a portrait of her recently deceased grandmother with a note that her absent grandfather never stopped loving her grandmother, Emily wanted to find out the truth about her grandparents’ relationship. That was important to her because she had been using the fact that both her grandfather and father abandoned their families as a reason for her to walk away from love. So, the new information started her down a path that made her question her decisions and how she was living her life.
In the first few chapters, Emily’s grandmother’s story was summed up in only a matter of pages. I was a little wary as to what the rest of the book would be about since I thought the past narration was going to trace her journey to finding love with a German POW, Peter. Instead, the author focused on Emily’s grandfather and allowed him to explain not only how he fell in love with her grandmother, but also how Emily came to hold the portrait. It might sound like there were too many themes to say that war, grudges, family drama, art, and love were all intermingled here, but they came together quite well.
I think the author’s greatest gift in writing this story was how she used the grudges that family members held against one another as a motivation for much of the plot. Their actions seemed plausible and so understandable given the tense social times created by war. Much of the emotions were a result of pure hurt, and Emily’s own story was so filled with the same emotions that there was a solid connection between the past and the present that resulted in a satisfying ending.
I was fortunate to have received an advance copy of Kristen’s first book and was eager to read more by her. I could see a noticeable improvement in her writing style, character development, and plot in this novel and would highly recommend this to readers who like more serious family dramas.