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The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson
Pub. Date: April 4, 2017
Source: ARC via publisher (Thank you, Tyndale!)
Summary: Living in rural Georgia in 1941, sixteen-year-old Alice-Ann has her heart set on her brother’s friend Mack; despite their five-year age gap, Alice-Ann knows she can make Mack see her for the woman she’ll become. But when they receive news of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Mack decides to enlist, Alice-Ann realizes she must declare her love before he leaves.

Though promising to write, Mack leaves without confirmation that her love is returned. But Alice-Ann is determined to wear the wedding dress her maiden aunt never had a chance to wear–having lost her fiance in the Great War. As their correspondence continues over the next three years, Mack and Alice-Ann are drawn closer together. But then Mack’s letters cease altogether, leaving Alice-Ann to fear history repeating itself.

Dreading the war will leave her with a beautiful dress and no happily ever after, Alice-Ann fills her days with work and caring for her best friend’s war-torn brother, Carlton. As time passes and their friendship develops into something more, Alice-Ann wonders if she’ll ever be prepared to say good-bye to her one true love and embrace the future God has in store with a newfound love. Or will a sudden call from overseas change everything?
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, WWII, Romance

Alice-Ann Branch is hopelessly in love with her brother’s best friend. Mack is handsome and kind and Alice-Ann dreams of the day he’ll see her as a woman and not just Nelson’s kid sister he’s known since she was a baby. When the news of Pearl Harbor makes its way to their tiny Georgia town, Alice-Ann knows it’s now or never and devises a plan to finally, finally tell Mack her true feelings at her sixteenth birthday party.

With the war at their doorstep, any boy who can readily enlists to go off and do his duty – Mack included and, while he doesn’t quite return Alice-Ann’s feelings, he does promise to write. As the months turn into years, Alice-Ann keeps up their correspondence, determined to make Mack see her as someone worth loving, a woman to spend the rest of his life with.

When Nelson’s other best friend returns home horribly wounded, Alice-Ann is tasked with keeping him company. Temporarily blinded and unable to walk, Carlton lies in his bed as Alice-Ann reads to him every afternoon. Over time, their once-awkward conversations develop into casual chats as they discuss every topic imaginable: literature and music, the war and what happened to Carlton overseas, and Carlton actually seems interested in what Alice-Ann has to say. He truly wants to know what’s on her mind. Each day Carlton’s health improves. The blurry shapes he can barely make out eventually become crystal clear images and under Alice-Ann’s care, Carlton goes from being unable to move his legs to getting around in a wheelchair, to – ultimately – walking on his own again.

Though tending to Carlton occupies her time, Alice-Ann is nonetheless still convinced Mack is her future…until the day a telegram arrives saying little more than Mack’s plane was shot down and he’s believed to be dead. With her dreams and heart shattered, could Alice-Ann ever move on? Will Mack forever be her one true love or could she possibly learn to open her heart to someone else?

You know a book is good when you ramble on and on just recapping the plot! To say I enjoyed The One True Love of Alice-Ann would be an understatement: I inhaled this novel. I lived and breathed it and it was all I could do to pace myself. This is a novel that completely captives the reader and I was so torn between wanting to savor every minute spent with these characters and wanting to read and read and read.

First and foremost, Eva Marie Everson knows how to write a character. Holy cow. You won’t find any cardboard cutouts here! Even Alice-Ann’s sister-in-law, a woman who I initially pegged as nothing more than a horrible Mean Girl, was surprisingly well-rounded and fleshed-out and I think that, as Alice-Ann aged and matured, she realized that her family and the people in her life weren’t just two-dimensional beings. Over time she became aware of her spinster aunt’s tortured romance, of her father’s past, even of Mack’s true nature and I believe that it’s as she comes to understand these people so does the reader and certain characters I couldn’t stand in the first few chapters grew and blossomed by the time I turned the final page. That is the mark of a fantastic writer.

Although The One True Love of Alice-Ann is set during the Second World War, this book is so much more than a wartime novel – and I say that as a reader who is obsessed with wartime novels! Yes, the war plays a key role, but the action happens off-screen so to speak. What little battle scenes there are can be found in brief, censored snippets from letters or talk about town. Instead, The One True Love of Alice-Ann is a beautiful coming-of-age novel, following a girl with a massive crush on a boy and her journey to the realization of what true love means.

This is the type of book whose ending can be easily guessed. How the novel plays out won’t come as a shock to any reader, but I honestly didn’t mind one bit. In fact, I loved watching the characters work out what I knew would come to be their reality and you can bet I was cheering them on every step of the way!

The One True Love of Alice-Ann is my introduction to Eva Marie Everson’s work and, my goodness, talk about a first impression! There’s drama, action, a swoon-worthy romance, lost love, growing up and moving on from childhood fantasies – not to mention incredibly crafted characters with both faults and strengths and a plot that had me glued to the page! I couldn’t be more excited to have discovered Everson’s novels. Though I honestly am sad to sad goodbye to this book, she has an impressive backlist that is sure to be just as great. If you’re looking for a novel with true-to-life characters, a wonderful message, and a slow burn romance, The One True Love of Alice-Ann is the book for you. My only disappointment is that it’s over – but rest assured I’ll be keeping a close eye on what Everson does next!

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