Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The End of Innocence by Allegra Jordan

This is rather off-topic, but when I first saw this title, I was reminded of another book. It wasn't until I finished the book that I remembered - The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. However those two books are nothing alike, although they do involve love and relationships.

In The End of Innocence, Helen Brooks is struggling to find her place in male-dominated Harvard. At the same time, Wils, a German noble (who's talented at poetry) is struggling to survive an increasingly anti-German American society. When the two of them meet, they fall in love. Complicating matters would be that Wils's cousin Riley, who also falls in love with Helen.

Personally, I loved the first part of the novel. The ending and later half? Not so much. While the current ending is definitely more realistic than the one I was hoping for, I felt as though the book ended, and a new book began. I can't talk about specifics without giving away spoilers, but I think it would be obvious where the new section began.

As for the characters, I think Wils was my favourite. His chapters were very well-written, and I was rooting for him from the start. As for Helen, I'm neutral towards her. I think that I didn't completely understand her character (especially at the end, because it seems different from how she was portrayed at the start), but I'm guessing most people will like her. These are the two main characters, and the other characters just feel like background characters to me.

But what I really liked about the book was how it explored issues such as women in higher education and American neutrality in the war. The second issue is definitely what drives this novel forward, and the book really opened my eyes. I remember reading about how Japanese-Americans were treated in World War II (Kira kira anyone?), but this is the first I've read about Germans in America during World War I.

All in all, this is a pretty good World War I novel. I like how it covers issues such as America's neutrality in the war. The main characters are well-written, and it's definitely an enjoyable novel.

Disclaimer: I received a free galley from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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