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Book evokes war through young eyes

 “Where are you from?” It’s a question so part of the day-to-day that most hardly give it a second thought, but for the subjects of Sandra Button’s book, it is a question that evokes sharp memories not only of hometowns and childhood shenanigans, but also of hunger, fear and death.
 “World War II: Through the Eyes of Children” offers vivid stories of resilience and love even in times of deep suffering. Local author Button collected these wartime stories from the childhoods of eight people who lived through the war in countries that range from Italy to the U.S.
Of these eight, four now live in Addison County. The local community may have been physically removed from the violence of World War II, but is not untouched by the war’s impact and reach.
The stories in this book are all told through recollection. The structure, length and focus of each story reflect the individual’s own experiences of war. These stories don’t linger on air raids, family members taken by the police in the middle of the night or treks across the Alps to cross the border into France. These are stories about the drive of education, time spent with family and romantic mishaps that occur even against the backdrop of war.
These pockets of normalcy are scattered amid the memories of bombs and escapes in the middle of the night, lending power to these stories. Button calls attention to the relatability and immediacy of wartime experiences, and she offers a human touch to stories that are otherwise reduced to impersonal headlines and numbers.
Although the proofreading at times leaves something to be desired, these errors fade into inconsequence as the reader is swept up by the pacing of each story. Each person tells his or her story with a sense of immediacy, inviting the reader into the lice-infested haystacks in which she spent a night after traveling miles by foot, or into the university’s French conversation club in which he met his future wife.
 These are remembrances of war, but also the lived experiences of those within our local community. War isn’t just about the numbers, victories and losses, but it is also about the lives whose courses are touched and altered, Button’s book reminds us.

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