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   The Girls They Left Behind

The Girls They Left Behind

Author: Hunter, Bernice Thurman Set In . . .
 North America, Canada, Ontario, Toronto
Genre: Young Adult
Time Frame: 1940s
Published: 2005

Like any teenager, Natalie wants to have fun. But it's 1944, and almost all the boys she knows have signed up and are being shipped overseas to fight the war in Europe. Too often she takes the trip to Union Station to wave goodbye to another friend, wondering if he'll ever come home again. And like her other girlfriends, Natalie is getting tired of waiting for the war to be over. There are still dances at the Armories to meet handsome boys in uniform, but is that all a girl can do for the war effort?

Natalie has a plan. Her first move was to change her name from Beryl, which didn't sound sophisticated at all. Now she quits school and takes a job at a department store. Buying War Saving Stamps with her meager earnings is not enough for Natalie, however, and soon she finds work at De Havilland Aircraft, making bombers. But it is during this time, when she is taking the most pride in her war work, that Natalie and her family get the news they've been dreading: her cousin, a gunner in the Dambusters Squadron, is listed as missing, presumed dead. And as news of other boys reaches home - some of it good but so much of it bad - Natalie begins to wonder what kind of world will be there for them all when the war finally ends.

At times funny and at other times deeply moving, Bernice Thurman Hunter's last novel is drawn from her own memories of being a teenager in Toronto during World War II. In Natalie, Hunter has created a spunky, outspoken and utterly charming character, which readers young and old will revel in. And in her unforgettable portrait of the home front, Hunter has brought to life the daily trials and tribulations of a generation of women who had to stand by while their men went to war.

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