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Reviewed by Lucinda E Clarke for Readers' Favorite
Welcome Home by Michael O’Brien tells the story of Peter, who was born in Germany in 1930. He was the youngest of three boys, but after the death of his mother, his father Heinrich married again and fathered two more children. The two eldest boys were called up to fight for Hitler and posted to Russia. Living in Memmingen, less than fifty miles northeast of the Swiss border, the Mayer family escaped the worst of the ravages of war. Peter’s ambition was to work as a master carpenter. While waiting to qualify for the educational institution he chose, he decided to go with a friend to America for two years. We learn of his integration into the German expatriate community, the difficulties and challenges he faced, and the people he met there. He’d promised his father he would return after two years, but would his new life in the United States persuade him to remain?
I found Welcome Home by Michael O’Brien an easy book to read. The story held together, the words flowed, and I finished it in two sessions. I admired Peter's work ethic, and I commiserated with his wife, Trudi. Her arrival in America was such a shock for her, not at all what she was expecting. And what was Peter thinking in introducing her to a half-finished house with no heating as winter approached? There are a couple of large jumps with the birth of their two children. I would have liked to meet them in more detail. The tension builds up toward the end with the car accident, and always in the background hangs the question of whether the Mayers will return to Germany. Even if I had not read Michael O’Brien’s autobiography at the end of the book, I would have guessed he was a journalist. I did enjoy the read but wanted to know so much more about the characters' feelings. Overall, a well-written family saga that focuses on the time during and after World War II from a German point of view. It will appeal to readers who like historical stories set in the last century. It also highlights the experiences of a family that moved to live in a foreign country and the challenges they faced. A recommended read.