Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #WWII #Family – Leora’s Letters by Joy Neal Kidney

Delighted to share my review for the poignant family story Leora’s Letters by Joy Neal Kidney.

About the book

The day the second atomic bomb was dropped, Clabe and Leora Wilson’s postman brought a telegram to their acreage near Perry, Iowa. One son was already in the U.S. Navy before Pearl Harbor had been attacked. Four more sons worked with their father, tenant farmers near Minburn until, one by one, all five sons were serving their country in the military. The oldest son re-enlisted in the Navy. The younger three became U.S. Army Air Force pilots.

As the family optimist, Leora wrote hundreds of letters, among all her regular chores, dispensing news and keeping up the morale of the whole family, which included the brothers’ two sisters. Her fondest wishes were to have a home of her own and family nearby. Leora’s Letters is the compelling true account of a woman whose most tender hopes were disrupted by great losses. Yet she lived out four more decades with hope and resilience.

“Joy lets us see her grandmother’s personal family correspondence through letters. It is heart-tugging. Be ready to be moved by this true story.” –Van Harden, WHO-Radio Personality

Joy Neal Kidney, the oldest granddaughter of the book’s heroine, is the keeper of family stories, letters, photos, combat records, casualty reports, and telegrams. Active on her own website, she is also a writer and local historian. Married to a Vietnam Air Force veteran, Joy lives in central Iowa. Her nonfiction has been published in The Des Moines Register, other media, and broadcast over “Our American Stories.” She’s a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, and her essays have been collected by the Iowa Women’s Archives at the University of Iowa.

My review for the book August 6th 2022

This book is an intimate inclusion in one family’s life and loss during the Second World War. Clabe and Leora work tirelessly on the farm they manage to raise their children and put something by for their dream of owning their own farm. In this rural environment it is natural for young men and women to perhap have their own dreams and even before Pearl Harbour one son has signed up with the Navy. Over the course of the war five sons would enlist to serve their country.

Through the letters written by Leora to her sons, and their often censored letters in return we share life on the home front and also their challenges as they go through training and then deployment. Their only link to home is these letters and others between each other and their sisters, and it is clear that this is a close knit and loving family doing their best through a very difficult time.

One can only imagine the constant worry any parent would have with a child serving on the front line, particularly with incomplete news reports in the media, long after major battles at sea and in the air. But to have five sons in the line of fire in the Pacific and in Europe must have been unbearable.

The letters are beautiful in their simplicity and informality as they would have been between a loving family. There is also some wry humour as the boys encounter the world outside their rural upbringing and undergo their training, as well as a deep love of their parents as they send money home toward their dream of owning their own land.

From the first page we are drawn into this family and feel the hope, love and loss they suffer over the course of the war. Whilst there is sadness, there is also admiration for a brave mother and her sons who believed in doing their duty, and respect for the sacrifice this family made. War should never be glorified, but those who lay their lives on the line for their country should be, especially when young with their whole lives ahead of them.

This period for all of us is now moving from living history as the last of those who can share their stories pass away. It is so important  that major events such as major conflicts are fought by ordinary men and women and their stories deserve to be told and remembered.

The author has done a wonderful job in collating these letters that recreate so vividly this time in world histry. By doing so she honours the members of her family, including her own parents who lived, loved and lost so much.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK

Also by Joy Neal Kidney

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UKMore reviews: GoodreadsWebsite: Joy Neal Kidney – Facebook: Joy Neal Kidney Author – Twitter: @JoyNealKidneyInstagram: Joy Neal Kidney

About Joy Neal Kidney

Joy was born two days before D-Day to an Iowa farmer who became an Army Air Corps pilot, then an instructor–with orders for combat when the war ended–and an Iowa waitress who lost three of her five brothers during that war. She spent her childhood in an Iowa farmhouse with a front porch. Now I live with my husband, a Vietnam veteran, in a suburban house with a front porch.

She’s published two books (“Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II” and “Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression.”) Joy is a regular contributor to Our American Stories.

Awards: 2021 Great American Storyteller Award by Our American Stories and WHO NEWSRADIO 1040

2021 – First place Our Iowa Stories award named for Joy Neal Kidney

Joy posts regularly on her website, administers several Facebook history pages, and contributes to more.

 

Thanks very much for dropping in today and I do hope you will be leaving with a book or two… Sally.

37 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #WWII #Family – Leora’s Letters by Joy Neal Kidney

  1. I think this would be a powerful read. I would love to get in the head of a parent who watches their child go off to war with mixed emotions between pride and fear.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – August 1st – 7th 2022 – Hits 2000, Nina Simone, #Waterford, #Nutrition, Podcast, Book Reviews, Health and Humour | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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