Monday, February 15, 2010

Ella Lefland, writer

(The writing muse seems to have struck again, following a long break. So entries will be arriving at shorter intervals.)

I read Leffland's 1970 novel Rumors of Peace several years ago, yet many of its scenes still resonate. The story takes place at the start of World War II in fictional Mendoza that resembles Martinez or Carquinez. Told through the viewpoint of young Susie Hansen, the war's approach takes on the particularity of its location. A tomboy when the bombers attack Pearl Harbor, she has learned to appreciate her burgeoning womanliness by the time of Hiroshima. Guiding her on this journey is the radical and brilliant older sister of her best friend. Susie's mentor helps her to navigate a self-acceptance that acknowledges her new sexuality without compromising and swallowing the standard female role of the time. So it is a path many, including myself, have followed.

This book works on so many levels, as coming-of-age, as the war's effect upon California, as a commentary on the difficulties of friendship, and more. I was dismayed to discover it is no longer in my library, though that absence means someone else is enjoying my copy, perhaps a purchase at a library sale. Highly recommended for all readers, and would serve a special gift to young adult readers and fans of California history.

Leffland's latest book, which I have yet to read, concerns a biography of Hermann Goering. One of these days...

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