Historical fiction is either the hottest genre of literature of the summer or I’m totally addicted. Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner proved once again reliving bits of history through fictional characters allows readers to appreciate our modern-day conveniences while understanding regrets have no timeline.
Imagine losing your sister for decades; not knowing if she’s dead or alive. In all honesty, it’s only been in the last 10 years or so that losing someone seems nearly impossible. Thanks to Steve Jobs and other technological innovators we can track a person’s every move.
But, in a Hitler dominated world, Emmy Downtree lost her younger sister, Julia in one afternoon because of one choice.
We know every major choice has a consequence. Young Emmy simply wants to meet with the people who can make her fashion dreams come true. She knows nothing of Hitler’s evil and complete disrespect for life; or his ego-driven power. Though she lived in London during World War II and heard rumors of the German attacks, Nazis were nothing more than a threat dreamed up by parents to make their children behave.
Had she known leaving her sister at home for an afternoon to chase a dream would lead to a lifetime of unanswered questions and longing, her choice would have been different.
But, at 15, who really knows that one choice truly can change the course of your life?
Do you remember 15? If you do, if you can remember and have empathy for yourself, you’ll love Secrets of a Charmed Life. We as readers trudge along with Emmy as she searches for her sister in the names of the dead and among the faces of the injured; along with a young journalist she befriends. We appreciate the compassion of her foster family who gives her a home as she begins to live with the fact that her sister is dead. And we root for Emmy to forgive her decision and make a new life for herself.
Yet… we’re given a twist in the story. The twist makes sense and brings the story a bit of zest.
This story of Emmy and Julia doesn’t feel contrived. It’s one we need to know as we look back at the world’s history, and our own. We make decisions. We live with consequences. We realize we’re all doing the best we can.