Book Review: Friends and Enemies by Terri Vanguard

Friends and EnemiesFriends and Enemies by Terri Wangard (Hopesprings Books, January 2016)

In 1943, widowed seamstress Heidi Wetzel finds new meaning in life by caring for evacuated childrePhin on a rural farm in war-torn western Germany. Never a supporter of National Socialism, she takes pleasure in passive resistance, but must exercise caution around neighbors who delight in reporting to the Gestapo.

Flying cadet Paul Braedel’s wife dies while he trains for the U.S. Army Air Corps. Following bereavement leave, he returns to training but he’s lost his zest for life and heads to England, not caring if he lives or dies. When he and his crew are shot down over Germany, he evades capture and, for the first time since Rachel’s death, hears the voice of God whisper guidance: “Find Heidi.”

When Heidi stumbles into a man she recognizes, she is shocked to realize he is a friend from her high school days in the United States, and the husband of her best friend Rachel. Aiding an enemy downed airman is punishable by execution, but she agrees to help.

Then they’re betrayed.

REVIEW: 

Teacher, philosopher, and magician Albus Dumbledore, from the world of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling once said, “It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to our enemies. But it takes a great deal more to stand up to up to our friends.” I thought of this quote often while reading Terri Wangard’s novel Friends and Enemies–and not simply because of the similarity of words between the quote and the title. While novels set during World War Two are fairly common amongst both the general and Christian markets, the aspect of Friends and Enemies that marks this as a must-read novel for fans of the genre is its ability to make a person question who was really a friend or enemy in a country condemned for actions taken by only a select few.

A novel of Christian romance as well as history, Friends and Enemies brims with details, facts, and research that makes the story come alive. Wangard deftly weaves her plot and characters around true-to-life insight and knowledge of what it was like to live, love, and fight during World War Two. While I found that this novel could be improved through writing and editing, overall the story captivated as I watched the author unfold the intricacies as both a friend and enemy of World War Two Germany.

Main characters Heidi and Paul are interesting enough to the story, but Friends and Enemies shines because of its plot. Paul–daring, brave, and questioning God–is an appealing hero. As a flight navigator, Paul’s experiences flying over worn-torn countries are thrilling and drew me into the story. Heidi–a war widow native to Germany but who has also lived in the United States–is the heart of Friends and Enemies. While her storyline did not interest me as much as Paul’s did, I found her sweet nature and the challenging circumstances she faced living in Germany but not believing in Nazism to be the most interesting part intellectually of Wangard’s book. At times Paul and Heidi’s romance didn’t feel believable, but its natural progression fit the story enough that I still enjoyed Friends and Enemies.

With Wangard’s love of history and keen ability to implement historical details into prose, I predict this author will be one to watch in the World War Two genre. I am looking forward to reading the next two novels in this series, coming out in later 2016 from Hopesprings Books.

RATING: 3.5 stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

TerriTerri Wangard grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, during the Lombardi Glory Years. Her first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she writes historical fiction, and won the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Woodland’s Chapter 2013 Writers on the Storm (WOTS) contest and the ACFW 2013 First Impressions, as well as being an ACFW 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, keeps her busy as an associate editor.

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