In 1996, the author’s dying father asked her to go to his home’s attic, and get his old army trunk—and to make sure she did it when her mom wasn’t home. He also made her promise that she wouldn’t look at the contents until both he and the author’s mother had passed away. Although Ms. Mackall did what her father instructed her, she pestered him until he told her what was in the trunk. At last he told her it was letters, hundreds of them, that he, Frank Daley, and her mother, Helen, had written to each other during World War II. Since Helen didn’t like showing her sentimental side, Frank was afraid Helen would throw them out after his passing.
Even though she didn’t open the actual letters, Ms. Mackall did give in to the temptation to take a peek at them in the trunk. She found a treasure trove of not just stacks of letters, but also Christmas and Easter cards from different locations throughout Europe, along with medals and Bibles signed by FDR encouraging all servicemen to read scripture. That is when the seeds were planted for the author to write a fictionalized story based on the very real experiences her parents lived out during World War II.
When Army Nurse Helen Eberhart and Army Doctor Frank Daley met on Easter Sunday of 1944, neither one of their lives would ever be the same. There was only a small window of time when the two of them were both stationed at the Army’s Battle Creek Training Camp. Despite having very little time to get to know each other, Frank decided he wanted to marry Helen. Overcoming her determination to never marry, along with the common knowledge that war marriages usually didn’t work out, was a big challenge for him.
Frank was up to the task, and Helen agreed to be his bride! The Army seemed to work extra hard to make it difficult for service personnel to marry. Both Helen and Frank had to take a pay cut, just like all married military personnel at that time had to. They also were stationed very far apart, and couldn’t tell each other what country they were in. Helen and Frank attempted to devise a code they hoped the letter censors wouldn’t catch so they could tell each other their location.
Other than the short time they had together when they first met, for the rest of the war Helen and Frank were not together, save for a couple of short rendezvous they were able to arrange. Instead they had a long distance marriage, and wrote over six hundred letters to each other. They ended each one with the phrase, “with love, wherever you are….”
This book was the author’s own love letter to her parents, and it is an amazing story. With Love, Wherever You Are, traces the romance, separation hardships, and faith the couple relied on. You will view the ups and downs of the war through their eyes.
Helen and Frank Daley were members of “The Greatest Generation”—the group of people who grew up during the Great Depression, served in World War II, and then returned home to rebuild America and start families. They were dependable and hard working, not seeking fame or ambition, but did all they did because it was the “right thing to do,” as journalist Tom Brokaw pointed out.
That description holds true for the author’s parents, as well as, for my own pair of Greatest Generation parents that raised me. Sadly, most of that generation have slipped away from us, especially in this last decade; in the year 2008 alone, it was estimated that more than 1,000 were dying a day.* Well-written books like this one help memorialize that time period, and the people who lived through it. Having it all wrapped up in a work of fiction makes it even better. I highly recommend this 5 plus star book to everyone—no matter what your generation. Helen and Frank will grab your attention from the first page, and you will not want to put it down until you find out how their story ends.
Tyndale House Publishing has provided bookreadingtic with a complimentary copy of With Love, Wherever You Are, for the purpose of review. I have not been compensated in any other manner. All opinions expressed are my own, and I was not required, or influenced, to give anything but an honest appraisal. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
*Estimate by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Once 16 million strong, U.S. veterans of World War II numbered 2.5 million by 2008 and less than 620,000 were still alive in 2016.
The Author’s Website: www.dandibooks.com
The Author’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dandi.mackall?fref=ts
The Author’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/dandiMackall
The Author’s Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/38952.Dandi_Daley_Mackall