Take a first love, make it forbidden, stir in a small Iowa town, a world war, and a passion for music, sprinkle it with deception, heartache, and loss, and let it simmer for decades.
My Mother's Friend
It is the summer of 1944, and the citizens of Algona, Iowa are growing accustomed to the new prisoner of war camp that opened in April just west of the city limits. Thousands of German POWs are being transported by train to Algona, and many of those men will work on farms and in factories where their labor is desperately needed. The impact of the camp on the community is substantial.
With World War II as a backdrop, the Swensson family deals with life’s challenges and changes. Seventeen-year-old Phee Swensson’s mother passed away two years ago, and Phee has become the family’s anchor, helping her father and younger siblings navigate life on the home front as best she can. Phee is a talented pianist who, one Saturday morning, is invited to tour Camp Algona. Inside the camp theater, she discovers a beautiful baby grand piano and a handsome German soldier playing Beethoven. That morning, an unforeseen friendship begins as the two of them find common ground in their love of music. Over the next year, their friendship strengthens, leading to unexpected adventures and life-altering decisions.
". . . Phee found a letter from Horst. Before reading it, she considered how her life had become so much more complicated because of this man. While falling in love with him, she kept her family as whole as she possibly could while keeping up with her studies, church obligations, and her efforts to be a better pianist. She continued to miss her mom and her brother Jamie who was serving overseas, and like everyone else in Algona, she survived rationing, recycling, war bond drives, and constant war news and worry. Her best friend Christa, whose brother was killed in the war, grew to despise Horst because he was a German soldier. And yet, Phee had never been happier than she was right this minute, sitting alone in her dad’s car on the old Lovers' Lane, holding a letter from Horst in her hand."