Debbie L. (Houston, TX)
a new look at the Greatest Generation
Of the many books about WWII, this is the first I have read that addresses the lasting pyschological effects on the families. Ms. Feldman has shown me a part of my parents' life that was not discussed. For baby boomers, the continuing impact of the war on the lives of their parents will lead to new and insightful discussions.
Mary P. (Bellingham, WA)
For real--Next to Love
Another one-sitting book. Many writings have focused on the effects of war on the soldiers, but this is one that brings to the fore the battles of the women in the lives of those soldiers. I was taken by how true the characterizations were, without over sentimentality. It reads for real.
Luisa A. (Flemington, NJ)
Next to Love was an exceptional book. I was enthralled by the woman and how their lives unfold. The book allowed me to feel as though I was there watching like a fly on the wall. It took me to a time long ago but yet the issues they dealt with were similar to many we face today. This is a rare book that as you read you become to so emotionally involved with the characters that it is difficult to put down. As the book progressed I would find myself thinking of my own life and wondering how the choice made have affected my life. How many secrets, hurt and pain do we all hold on to? How do we help those that may be hurting without losing ones self? The book explores the relationship between woman and how they are linked. How they relate to one another, how they deal with the big and little issues throughout their lives. To sum up – this book is a great read and even more a book that allows you to look out to the lives of others and within your own.
Kimberly B. (Atlanta, GA)
Soul-Stirring and Deep
I give kudos to Ellen Feldman for her superior writing skills and fully developed realistic characters; where my discord arises is the overpopulation of stereotypes throughout the book. Next To Love deals with love and war and also with American society before and after WWII, that is riddled with class and race struggles. The book did however offer a new perspective on race issues. Feldman was artfully wove these themes into the story, creating an enriching story.
Yet and still, the war stories - home and abroad - and complex themes of love were a bit heavy for the soul, too heavy for me. I do however appreciate the lesson in history; 1950s postwar America and the dawning of the civil rights movement, the birth of the Baby Booming Generation, and the evolution of Feminism via the displacement of women from the workforce and their desire for something more than a life of domestic servitude. Although deep and somewhat depressing, Next To Love is still a good read.
Shirin M. (Beverly Hills, CA)
Next to Love
Set in a small town on the East Coast, “Next to Love,” follows the lives and loves of three young women as they struggle to find themselves and meaning to their lives during an era when the world was fast changing. Their lives, bookended by World War II and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, provide a strong sense of place and time. The book will find an audience with those who enjoy realistic stories about friendships and relationships. Fans of Elizabeth Berg and Nancy Thayer can now add Ellen Feldman to their list.
Susan P. (Boston, MA)
Next to Love
The best part of this book revolving around wives of soldiers going overseas during WWII was in-depth understanding of the women. The issues of army wives following husbands from camp to camp was unknown to me, especially the strong feelings people had about it. However, I felt as though I had pages missing from the end of the book. There seemed to be no resolution or decisions made or at least statements about accepting one's life. The characters started out interesting and ended up one dimensional. A good read but the end was flat.
Betsy R. (Gig Harbor, WA)
Next to Love
Next to Love weaves the story of three women, childhood friends from a small town, who loved and then married men who were going off to fight in World War II. One of the aspects that I found fascinating was the way in which the author illustrated the fact that soldiers from this war experienced PTSD also, made even more difficult by the code that made it impossible to talk about or get help for. All three women dealt with their situations in different ways but stayed friends, sometimes in spite of great odds. I enjoyed the book very much; I found the ending to be a bit rushed - this book could easily have had a sequel with the storyline extending into the next generation.