How does a man show his love – for country, for heritage, for family – during a war that sets the three at odds? What sets in motion the necessity to choose one over the other? How will this choice change everything and everyone he loves?
Jacob Miller, a first-generation American, grew up in New Berlin, a small German immigrant town in Ohio where he endured the Great Depression, met his wife, and started a family. Though his early years were not easy, Jacob believes he is headed toward his ‘happily ever after’ until a friend is sent to an internment camp for enemy combatants, and the war lands resolutely on his doorstep.
In An Enemy Like Me, Teri M Brown uses the backdrop of World War II to show the angst experienced by Jacob, his wife, and his four-year-old son as he left for and fought in a war he did not create. She explores the concepts of xenophobia, intrafamily dynamics, and the recognition that war is not won and lost by nations, but by ordinary men and women and the families who support them.
Brown deftly immerses readers in the daily life of World War II through haunting, intimate details—like Bonnie’s vivid grief at bidding Jacob farewell on a train station platform, Jacob’s loneliness in a German foxhole while awaiting enemy fire, and little William’s concern about being “the man of the house” during his daddy’s absence. Alternating perspectives and timeline jumps add relevance to the present day, particularly when an adult William reflects on a life well-lived and dominated by loyalty to his country on Veteran’s Day, 2016. As he struggles with bittersweet memories of a father who returned from war a sterner man, William’s resolve to improve his relationship with his own son will resonate with readers.
Most interesting is Jacob’s inner conflict about his ethnic heritage, to which the title alludes, and his decision to join the military to prove his patriotism, at the risk of losing his family. The pro-Nazi Volksbund movement, its anti-German backlash, and the anxiety it induced in German Americans is seldom addressed in popular literature—and Brown’s depiction of a unique angst within a much-chronicled American era sets this novel apart. History buffs will appreciate the thoughtful salute to those who served our country and their impact on generations of Americans.
Takeaway: A stirring account of a German American family’s joys and sufferings during WWII.
Great for fans of: The Winds of War by Herman Wouk and No Promises in the Wind by Irene Hunt.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A