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    Extraordinary Historical Fiction

    In this remarkable second installment of his Sweet Wine of Youth trilogy, Jeffrey K. Walker brings together two minor characters from None of Us the Same, the likable Ned Tobin and Chester Dawkins, and gives us the riveting backstory on how they met and who they come to know, fleshing out their lives at home, in the trenches of WWI and post-War. Ned, a white man, and Chester, a black man, grapple with long-held prejudices and the discomfort they feel when the war throws them together. Both have strong, wonderfully vibrant women in their lives: Ned has fallen madly for the lovely Frenchwoman, Adèle. Chester leaves his beloved sister, Lena, at home in Harlem to manage the household and their declining father. Their stories held me delightfully captive through the U.S. entry into the war, avant-garde Paris, Prohibition-era Harlem, Boston and newly independent Ireland. Walker writes the most realistic descriptions of the settings, you can’t help but feel like you’re in these locations, too. His characters are richly and beautifully written. They truly come alive on the page. I couldn’t put the book down. I learned a lot about the 1920s, the Harlem’s Hellfighters, the avant-garde period, so much more! And I loved so many of the secondary characters as well as the main ones who run the gamut: kind, quirky, conniving, hateful, generous, loving, sweet, resilient, vicious. The book was a fabulous read. I highly recommend.
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    Truly Great Book

    I like Truly are the Free even more that I loved None of Us the Same. This time I found myself reading parts of it over again while I was reading the entire book. This was not because I thought I had missed something or didn’t understand it. It was maybe because I was charmed by it, really interested in it and/or the characters, loved the language of it, wanted to make sure I hadn’t missed something. I think the author learned something while writing the first book and even more with the second. Truly are the Free seems to be much smoother to read. I found a cohesiveness of the story, believability of the characters, the inclusion of enough history to understand the war even better, but especially the language. There were passages I read over again because I was so taken by the way they were written. I could see the characters faces, feel their thoughts, see the scenery, the horribleness of the war, Ned’s love of the farm, Lena’s strength, and so much more.

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