Fitzhenry Whiteside Publishing

The Girls They Left Behind
Bernice Thurman Hunter

Red Maple Award shortlist 2007

A home-front story set during World War II

Like any teenager, Natalie wants to have fun. But it’s 1944, and almost all the boys she knows have signed up and are being shipped overseas to fight the war in Europe. Too often she takes the trip to Union Station to wave goodbye to another friend, wondering if he’ll ever come home again. And like her other girlfriends, Natalie is getting tired of waiting for the war to be over. There are still dances at the Armories to meet handsome boys in uniform, but is that all a girl can do for the war effort?

Natalie has a plan. Her first move was to change her name from Beryl, which didn’t sound sophisticated at all. Now she quits school and takes a job at a department store. Buying War Saving Stamps with her meager earnings is not enough for Natalie, however, and soon she finds work at De Havilland Aircraft, making bombers. But it is during this time, when she is taking the most pride in her war work, that Natalie and her family get the news they’ve been dreading: her cousin, a gunner in the Dambusters Squadron, is listed as missing, presumed dead. And as news of other boys reaches home - some of it good but so much of it bad - Natalie begins to wonder what kind of world will be there for them all when the war finally ends.

At times funny and at other times deeply moving, Bernice Thurman Hunter’s last novel is drawn from her own memories of being a teenager in Toronto during World War II. In Natalie, Hunter has created a spunky, outspoken and utterly charming character, which readers young and old will revel in. And in her unforgettable portrait of the home front, Hunter has brought to life the daily trials and tribulations of a generation of women who had to stand by while their men went to war.

"With its inclusion of brand names, wartime prices, and details about rationing and blackouts, this book will have particular appeal to nostalgic adults who have similar memories of daily life during World War II."
-- School Library Journal

"The author has a good writing style that quickly draws the reader into the story. This paperback book is very well written and is sure to be enjoyed by many. This quick moving story is well deserving of a five star rating and is a book which every middle school library should have."
-- Lane Education Service District

"Bernice Thurman Hunter uses diary entries and letters to show us Canada's home front during the Second World War. The diarist is Natalie, who leaves school in her late teens to work in an aircraft factory. The intimacy of the diary form works well in taking us into the families seeing sons off to the war, huddling anxiously around the radio after D-Day, and rejoicing on Toronto's streets when the end is announced and surging crowds waving Union Jacks and Red Ensigns march joyfully to City Hall. We feel the injustice when Natalie and her women friends are fired from their factory jobs to make way for returning veterans, and we feel the sorrow for the sacrificed ones and relief when the presumed-lost return after all, some with war brides."
-- Times-Colonist (Victoria)

Bernice Thurman Hunter did not see her first novel published until she was almost 60, but she went on to produce 15 novels for young readers including That Scatterbrain Booky (0590710826) and Janey’s Choice (0590124978). Bernice died in 2002.


5 x 8, 192 pages, Trade Paper
Historical - Military & Wars

$12.95 CAD
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