Best-selling author Dean Hughes released his newest hardcover “Home and Away: A World War II Christmas Story” about the importance of hope and love at home.
The book is a nostalgic piece of historical fiction, portraying the realities of World War II. It presents the sharp contrast between life on the home front and the hardships of war on the frontline. Vivid descriptions of the wartime realities and crisp, familiar narration of the characters’ conciseness make this a gripping story.
Park City resident Gail Halladay applauds the book for its ability place the reader in different time and prompt him or her to reflect on the meaning of this time of year.
“I was transported to a time and place that existed before I was born, and learned more about the WWII era and what their days and fears were like, especially around the holidays,” Halladay said. “It gave me reason to pause, especially during this busy time, and to think on the deeper meaning of Christmas, and to be grateful for the many blessings we receive, daily.”
The story alternates between the lives of two brothers, Dennis and Glenn, during the Christmas of 1944.
Dennis, a 16-year-old boy, is an anchor for his family and understands what it means to love, sacrifice and exercise a deep level of forbearance. He becomes a pillar of strength for his family members as they anxiously await the return journey of the eldest son.
Glenn, the older brother, is a paratrooper fighting the war in Europe and is placed on the front lines in Germany. Glenn is plagued by cold, harsh weather conditions and a conscience desensitized by war.
Hughes was born during WWII, and has written many historical fiction novels highlighting the culture of the era. “I don’t think I was so much fascinated with World War II as I was with the war era and the people who survived those challenging times,” the author said.
Hughes admits that his age might bias his opinions towards 1940 America, but much of the culture, way of life and values of the time period have been changed, if not lost, and he wishes to preserve as much if it as he can through his writing.
In addition to the book’s historical appeal, Home and Away is also written as a reflection piece on Hughes’ own life and his relationship with his family.
“I tried to probe my own family dynamic and look “home” — which is now far away,” the author said. “So much of who we are comes from our early family life, and I couldn’t resist trying to understand some things about myself. The story itself is fiction and not exactly what happened to me, but the emotions are all built on my experience.”
Chris Schoebinger, Publishing Director for Shadow Mountain Publishing, agrees the personal connection in combination with the author’s knowledge of the time period make this story an inspirational holiday read.
“The historical accuracy and emotional connection to his stories is one of the author’s strengths and it’s a realistic glimpse into a life-changing moment in world history,” Schoebinger said. “This book shows the many miracles and gifts that can be found, especially at this time of year. Home and Away is so heart-warming that it’s the perfect family read-aloud for this Christmas.”
Hughes’ hope for readers is that they feel the emotion of the book and the powerful influence a good Christmas brings. He wants readers to understand how families can pass through difficult times and use challenges to work through personal pain and move toward better feelings.