The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’d never met, a native of Guernsey, the British island once occupied by the Nazis. He’d come across her name on the flyleaf of a secondhand volume by Charles Lamb. Perhaps she could tell him where he might find more books by this author. As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, she is drawn into the world of this man and his friends, all members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a unique book club formed in a unique, spur-of-the-moment way: as an alibi to protect its members from arrest by the Germans. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the Society’s charming, deeply human members, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Through their letters she learns about their island, their taste in books, and the powerful, transformative impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds there will change her forever.”
I really liked this book. I was wary at first because it is written in letter-style, which can be choppy and difficult to follow, but Ms. Shaffer and Ms. Barrows pulled it off very well. They write in a fun, light, happy tone, even though there are some hard things discussed. The war was hard on these people, and they talk of their sufferings, which is good for me to remember, but it is difficult to hear. I fell in love with these characters, just as Juliet did, and I just felt as if I were right there with her meeting them. It’s fun to see how Juliet “grows up” as the book progresses, and how she begins to see things from a different light. This book is rich with life experiences: how to cope with difficult situations, how to adapt to what life brings you, and that the people in our lives are more important than any thing we may possess. I wholeheartedly recommend this book. It is a fun, easy read that teaches what matters most in life.
Rating: PG-13 (War-time experiences, death, minor language, and a gruesome explanation of what occurred in the concentration camps.)
Recommendation: High School and up. The deaths and experiences described in the concentration camps were really hard to read, and probably shouldn’t be read by younger readers.