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Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite
When I Was a Child, based on actual events, is the story of Louis Pfeiffer's life in Kansas during the depression and World War II. It is a story of tragedy, loss, courage, and triumph. The narrative moves back and forth from his childhood and his days as a paratrooper and prisoner of war.
On Ash Wednesday, 1926, Alex and Theresa Pfeiffer left their six children at home alone while they went to Mass. The heavy rain turned into a cold, snowy blizzard. Theresa was found frozen to death, leaving her children without a mother. Louis was only two years old, and his sister, Jerry, was four; they were sent to live with their grandmother. Later, after her death, they returned to the farm and their siblings. Tragedy, such as tornadoes and economic woes, struck again and again. At seventeen, young Louis entered the army where he became a paratrooper; he was captured by the Germans and incarcerated in a prisoner of war camp.
Author T. L. Needham is Louis’ nephew. From the first pages Needham reaches out, grabs the reader and holds tight until the last words as he writes about the courage and bravery of the Pfeiffer children. They had great faith and persevered despite the trials they faced. The author breathed life into his characters, and they jumped off the pages and into my heart. The narrative moves smoothly back and forth between Louis’ childhood and his days in the military. I did not want this book to end. It would have been easy for a lesser talented author to allow the book to be morose and just tragic, but Needham, instead, celebrates the strength, faith and courage of his family. The author is to be commended for this excellent retelling of history.