Dream When You Are Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg
They were known as the “dreamy Heaney sisters”, all young and beautiful. Kitty who is said to be a Rita Haywood look-alike is sure that her boyfriend Jillian has left her an engagement ring at the jewelry store before shipping out to fight in WWII. After all he hinted about her going to the store after he had gone to pick up a little something he left for her! Louise is in love with Michael who is leaving on the same day as Jillian to fight in the war but he will be on the European front, where Jillian will be in the Pacific. Both sisters pine for their men but while Louise is getting pages and pages of letters form Michael filled with romance and love, Kitty finds Jillian’s letters to be lacking in that department and feels more like a pen pal then a possible fiance.
When Kitty goes to pick up the mysterious package at the jewelery store, what she finds makes her rethink everything she thought she knew, and find an inner independence that she never knew she possessed and make sacrifices, she could never have imagined.
Now this is the Elizabeth Berg I have come to know and love. Recently I had listened to a couple of her reads that left me a little flat, but as my goal is to read through all of her works (come what may) in 2011… I have continued on and so far I am enjoying the journey.
Dream When You Are Feeling Blue is a story from the 1940’s and it is almost sad in some ways to see how much we have changed. In these times, girls usually did not move out of their parents homes until they were married. The three sisters (there is a third sister named Tish who is quite the handful) share a room in their strongly Irish home. As I listened to this on audio it was fun to hear the thick accents of both the parents. What struck me is how strong knit this family was, come what may – they were in it together and the sisters as well as the three brothers, all listened to and respected their parents.
When the sisters start going to the USO dances, Louise and Kitty mainly to keep an eye on their younger and wilder sister Tish, they are shocked when they see someone actually kissing out in the open. So different from what happens today.
Another part of the book that spoke to me was the deep sacrifices they made as a family and really that is the theme of the book. The girls sacrifice their boyfriends to the war and hope that they will return to them whole. The family sacrifices by all doing their part to make ends meet, the girls getting jobs, Kitty even working in a factory that her parents find not fitting for a girl, but she wants to do her part for the war efforts and they are proud of that. The food is rationed, some days there is no meat available and many of the meals sound like they had to choke them down as they were made from only what they had. It made me think of how privileged my own life has been having never have gone without anything I needed like food or comforts of home.
I think from this review you can see this book made an impression on me. From what I have read of Elizabeth Berg so far, this is her at her best. While the book is about the events surrounding WWII, it is mostly about what is happening on the home front and the letters that the girls write to the men fighting in the war.
The ending shocked me…. and yes, there was a few tears shed.
The 2011 WHERE Are You reading Map is updated to include Dream When You Are Feeling Blue
I borrowed this audio from my library