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Friday, April 7, 2023

The Secret Sister by Liz Trenow

England 1944. A small village and the call up letters are beginning to come. Eddie at thirteen volunteered to go with his father to Dunkirk four years before, and though they ferried over a 100 soldiers to safety, the death of one man traumatized Eddie so much that he decides to flee before the call up comes. Hoping that he will come to his senses and return his parents and twin sister await before the news gets out that he has run away. in the meantime Lizzie his twin sister gets her call up orders, followed by a letter saying she is not fit for duty and in a bizarre turn of events, poses as her brother and joins the Bevin Boys, a group of boys not sent to war but to the coal mines instead. What follows is a dangerous subterfuge with Lizzie having to act, live and work in the coal mines, on guard all the time, maintaining contacts with her family that she is at a secret location hoping against hope that her twin will surface and not be condemned as a deserter. The story unravels with a mining accident but it is a very descriptive one - from the coalfields, to the attitudes of villagers to conscientious objectors like the Quakers and even the disparaging way the miners were treated, despite them doing a necessary and very dangerous job in England. An interesting bit was that recognition of their services came only seventy years after the war ended. No merit was given, no medals, neither were they acknowledged or allowed to participate in parades. That was sad. A different perspective of WWII from an angle I had never heard about. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

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