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Review: An Enemy Like Me by Teri M. Brown

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I’ve been anticipating the release of An Enemy Like Me, and I’m excited to say that it’s finally here.

After reading Teri M. Brown’s debut novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, I’ve been eagerly awaiting her next novel, and I’m sure glad that my wait is finally over.

I’m always on the lookout for new historical fiction because it’s one of my favorite genres. This book in particular though, I’ve been especially eager to read. Why? Because Teri M. Brown’s debut novel (Sunflowers Beneath the Snow) was an unexpected surprise for me and I was secretly hoping for another 🙂

So here in my review of An Enemy Like Me, (her second book), I’ll share my thoughts on this novel along with my honest opinion on whether you should read, reread or reconsider this book.

black and white image of soldier standing in European village with book cover of the book An Enemy Like Me on it and the words Book Review in blue boxes

Who Is Teri M. Brown?

In case you’re not already familiar with this author, Teri M. Brown is an American author of historical fiction novels. Her debut novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, was published in 2022, and it was a complete surprise to me in many ways.

So I couldn’t wait to see what she had up her sleeve for us this time.

Publisher’s Synopsis Of An Enemy Like Me

How does a man show his love – for country, for heritage, for family – during a war that sets the three at odds? What sets in motion the necessity to choose one over the other? How will this choice change everything and everyone he loves?

Jacob Miller, a first-generation American, grew up in New Berlin, a small German immigrant town in Ohio where he endured the Great Depression, met his wife and started a family. Though his early years were not easy, Jacob believes he is headed toward his ‘happily ever after’ until a friend is sent to an internment camp for enemy combatants, and the war lands resolutely on his doorstep.

An Enemy Like Me – What I Liked

The first thing I liked was the dual time frame. The book opened in 1944 from the viewpoint of the character William who was only a small child at the time. He was witnessing the time leading up to his father going off to war, including what seemed like arguments between his parents.

I thought this immediately set the stage for a story that made us truly understand how difficult these times were for average families like this who had one or more family members going off to fight in the war.

After all, most of us have only ever read about this, but never experienced it personally. So, we can really only imagine the feelings involved rather than actually having lived those feelings ourselves. When I started the book I could feel what I think William (the child) was feeling as he watched his dad prepare for and go off to war. It truly made me wonder how I would have felt if I had to watch my dad go off to war.  Something I never considered before.

The next mention of William is many years later in 2016 when obviously, he is now an adult. Not only is he an adult, but he’s an adult that is going to visit his father’s grave. From there, the book takes us immediately right to William’s father, Jacob (or Jakob), but between the years of 1917-1935. Right then I knew we would get the whole backstory of Jacob’s life leading up to William watching him go off to war.

I personally love generational sagas where we can bounce between dual timeframes and where more than one generation of characters makes an appearance in the book. In An Enemy Like Me, we get to know three generations.

The character Jacob Miller (William’s father), is a first-generation American who grew up in a small German immigrant town in Ohio which is where the book is set in the U.S. I enjoyed this setting because it gave me some perspective on what happened here in the U.S. during those years. My own parents and grandparents grew up and lived in the Midwest during those years leading up to and including the Great Depression, and the book really gave me some insight into what they might have been experiencing during those years.

So many WWII period novels are set in various parts of Europe, which is understandable and which I also enjoy. But, it was a bit refreshing to have so much of the United States featured in this one, again, because it made me wonder about my own family.

This aspect of the book was particularly special to me because, as I was reading An Enemy Like Me, just a few weeks ago in December of 2022, I, unfortunately, lost my 102-year-old mother, Lorraine. She was born in Chicago in 1920 to a Polish-American family and lived in a very Polish Chicago neighborhood until she was a young woman.

I think we never take the opportunity to ask our parents everything we want to ask before they’re gone. I certainly asked her a lot of things, but, I would have liked to know even more about what the war years were really like. And what it was like for her Polish-American family back in those years, especially her Polish immigrant grandparents.

Reading An Enemy Like Me made me picture my mother so clearly and think about her when she was just a young woman in her 20s.

And I’m sorry, I know that blurb above, about my mom, doesn’t really have anything to do with a review of An Enemy Like Me, but the book made me think about her and other ancestors of mine, so I’ll just call this a little personal tribute to her which will live forever on my blog!

Finally, An Enemy Like Me serves as a reminder that, in the end, it is ordinary people like you and me that fight, win and lose wars. While the governments involved may be directing the show, it’s the people like us who were/are/will be out there in the trenches that matter. And what is often forgotten is that the wives, partners, and children of those left behind to wait, endure great suffering too.

An Enemy Like Me – What I Didn’t Like

Nothing. Nada, zip, zilch. Honestly, there wasn’t anything that I did not like about this book.

OK, maybe one thing. I would have liked to spend even more time inside An Enemy Like Me. So, maybe I wanted a longer book 🙂

An Enemy Like Me – Read, ReRead or Reconsider?

And now, for my 3 Rs of book reviews.

Should you read, reread or reconsider reading An Enemy Like Me?

This Is A Definite Read!

If you like historical fiction, especially anything having to do with the WWII period in history, you won’t want to miss this newest novel from Teri M. Brown.

An Enemy Like Me is full of emotion. There is love, there is joy, but there is also grief. There are uncertainty and bittersweet memories. There is patriotism and there is inner anxiety about a character’s ethnic heritage. All of these emotions roll up into one single stirring salute to those who have served our country in the past, who are serving in the present, and also those who will serve in the future.

I loved this book in many ways, but mostly for how it made me think and wonder about people who were important to me.

Teri M. Brown, please keep writing!

And if you’re really into this genre and looking for more, head over here to explore even more historical fiction and see if you can find anything that interests you.

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