Which Way Now? Is an historic novel about the Midwestern United States during World War II. Although it starts in the German Embassy in Minneapolis and information about import and export, the reader immediately is captured by the tensions created by Roosevelt’s decisions and the changing war efforts. German Immigrants were busy proving that they were citizens and some even changed their names; many of the German’s on visas were busy traveling home and leaving as fast as they were able.
In our part of the country we know much more about the Japanese internment camps than we do about the German POW camps, but they were also present here in our state too.
Wilhelm has been moved up into the position of director of the Embassy from the import/export liaison it is his first day on the job and just in time, he escapes arrest for being a German Spy and Intelligence Officer. He is able to find a job and “hide out” for a period of time, before he is discovered and questioned. The USA police do not know what to do with him and doon send him to the heartland of America to be in a prisoner of war camp for German soldiers and provide farm labor to provide food for the war effort.
The POWs made it a horrendous experience for each other and demanded loyalties and used extreme measures on each other. They often had plenty of food and good medical attention.
This history lesson is told around a nice love story and provides solid information about what it was like to live in small town America and be the daughter left home to work and keep the farm going. It also defines the few choices open to young women at that period of time and how they were confined and restricted in what they could do or achieve.
Our book group filled the whole evening with great discussions of the various aspects of the story, including looking at Germany today after the rebuilding and what they have achieved. I think this is a story that we need as a reminder of what our history lessons teach us. It is a keen look at the prejudices and actions of people in various aspects of war and how they got along, coped and dealt with the hatred and fear being whipped to a frenzy.
Chris Rahn was busy at the time of our meeting, but she is a local author and was helpful about following through on our questions. One of our members said Rahn had been her work supervisor and was just one of the best people she ever worked for and with. What I liked especially was her writing style and good word usage. It was a thoughtful book and the characters were believable and well written.
I would recommend this as a good story, good history lesson and I am sure most high school students would get a better understanding of WWII from Which Way Now?.