Review

Dream When You're Feeling Blue

by Elizabeth Berg

In
April 1943, Kitty Heaney's boyfriend, Julian, joins the Marines and
departs in order to fight in the Pacific, leaving the young Rita
Hayworth look-alike not only fearful for his life but wondering
about the nature of their relationship. Julian has never said he
loves Kitty or that he's committed to their future together. In
high contrast, her sister Louise's boyfriend, Michael, leaves with
the Army but makes crystal clear that he's madly in love with
Louise.

Kitty's hopes are raised during Julian's leave-taking when he asks
her to go by the jeweler's. Kitty is positive that this is his sly
way of proposing, but after she picks up the jeweler's package, her
position in Julian's life remains a mystery.

Kitty and Louise continue to accompany their brash and beautiful
youngest sister Tish to the USO dances where Kitty meets Hank, who
is good-looking, a deep thinker and truly interested in hearing
Kitty's thoughts and opinions on important subjects. Kitty promises
to write to him --- and she seems to have more to write about to
Hank than to Julian, although she continues to pine for her beau
and to tell Hank they are simply friends. Tish shocks Kitty by
announcing that she believes Kitty is in love with Hank, not
Julian. But then, doesn't Tish seem just a bit too interested in
Julian?

Hank encourages Kitty to apply for a defense job, as so many women
have, and she's ecstatic when Douglas Aircraft hires her. She'll
earn a whopping 60 cents an hour! But her parents are appalled:
she'll ruin her hands and her reputation, and she'll have to wear
slacks.

Her dream job turns out to be a nightmare, thanks to hard, filthy
work and disrespectful male co-workers. Kitty yearns to have her
old life back, full of attentive, handsome young men, good food and
leisure time that is not spent writing letters to servicemen. In
spite of the war, life on the home front continues: Kitty's
brothers are worrisome, each in their own way; her father pressures
Kitty to act patriotically in spite of herself; and sister Louise's
romance continues to outshine anything Kitty has experienced.
Everyone Kitty knows is affected by the tragedies and grim
realities of wartime.

As always, Elizabeth Berg's storytelling genius creates a complete
world, peopled with flawed but lovable characters. DREAM WHEN
YOU'RE FEELING BLUE is filled with tons of minute and realistic
period details, which bring the times alive in full living color,
giving depth to those vague movie-inspired romantic notions about
the World War II home front. Setting predominates early in the book
until the reader is well-absorbed into the times. Kitty's
rambunctious family members are true to life, and although Kitty
herself is not always a fully sympathetic character, she intrigues
us as she grows and changes, her personality deepening.

Readers will either embrace or despise the story pace, which is a
leisurely stroll complete with lots of descriptions. I'm still
trying to decide how I feel about the stunning twist at the end; I
truly did not see it coming, and it felt a bit out of left field.
However, the characters and the storyline combine to pack an
emotional wallop that will linger long after the reader reaches
"The End."

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon (terryms2001@yahoo.com) on January 21, 2011

Dream When You're Feeling Blue
by Elizabeth Berg

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN-10: 1400065100
  • ISBN-13: 9781400065103