Already in her twenties, Analise is beginning to feel left behind. All her close friends are married with children, but she and Jacob have been engaged for three years. During dinner he announces he’s volunteering to go to Spain to help with the war and Analise can feel him slipping away. In desperation, she decides to become a nurse and follow him to the front. However, a chance encounter with an African American on the ship to France plants the seed of doubt in her mind. She and Mark have never met, or have they? How can a complete stranger call to her heart as much as he does, and what hope does love have of blooming in the middle of a battlefield?
The End of Yesterday, by E. M. Corbin, takes place in the 1930s as Nazi Germany gains power and allies, during a time of deep-seated racism and prejudice. Analise is largely innocent and sheltered, having followed societal expectations for a white woman of means at the time. Through her, readers experience the expectations and double standards forced upon women, and through Mark, the racism against African Americans. This is a book that is strongly character driven, even the side characters who only appear for a few pages (such as the busy-body Mrs. Moss or the judgmental Juanita) are well-crafted and were gifted with distinct personalities. Analise’s evolution over the course of the story is a joy to follow, and her determination to help despite all the various setbacks she encounters is inspiring.
The story has a touch of magical realism, with Mark and Analise experiencing bouts of déjà vu and sharing dreams of a past life. Their budding connection is framed to great effect by the war that surrounds them. Corbin does a remarkable job of describing the gruesome realities of conditions suffered on the front lines, both with the soldiers and the medical professionals. As such, readers overly sensitive to descriptions of gore and squalid living may want to steer clear of this book, but those who do choose to dive into its pages will be well rewarded! The book is rife with social commentary and observations about human connection that are applicable today, making this work of historical fiction wonderfully relevant. The End of Yesterday is a story that will keep you turning pages late into the night and wondering about any déjà vu experiences in your own life.
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