I Gave My Heart to Know This by Ellen Baker

Summary ~ I Gave My Heart to Know This ~ In January 1944, Grace Anderson, Lena Maki, and Lena’s mother, Violet, have joined the growing ranks of women working for the war effort. Though they find satisfaction in their jobs at a Wisconsin shipyard, it isn’t enough to distract them from the anxieties of wartime, or their fears for the men they love: Lena’s twin brother, Derrick, and Grace’s high school sweetheart, Alex. When shattering news arrives from the front, the lives of the three women are pitched into turmoil. As one is pushed to the brink of madness, the others are forced into choices they couldn’t have imagined—and their lives will never be the same. 
More than five decades later, Violet’s great-granddaughter, Julia, returns to the small farmhouse where Violet and Lena once lived. Listless from her own recent tragedy, Julia begins to uncover the dark secrets that shattered her family, eventually learning that redemption—and love—can be found in the most unexpected places. 

Well my dear Ellen Baker, you have done it again!!!  I Gave My Heart to Know This is an intricately woven tale of family, friendship, love and loss and it is simply amazing.  Ellen Baker’s debut novel, Keeping The House, is one of my all-time favorite novels and her sophomore release sits right up there with it.  This book had me reading when I could and even when I really shouldn’t have.  Baker’s mastery of character development as well as plot twists and turns kept the pages flying and are what makes her so great and her novels very memorable. 

Grace, Violet, Lena, Joe and Jago found themselves in tragic times along with many of our great-grandparents and grandparents.  The times were WWII and the U.S. was asked to make the sacrifice and help its military overseas by giving blood, sweat and tears.  Grace, Violet, Lena and their friend “Boots” joined the work force as welders and ship builders.  Relief from the dangerous work and long hours came from Lena’s twin brother Derrick’s letters from his military base in California and later the Pacific theater.  On Lena’s suggestion, Grace and Derrick became pen-pals and soon star-crossed lovers who never met but made plans for after Derrick’s return home.  That never came and from that sorrow and heartbreak grew lies, deception and more heartbreak.  The family never quite recovered from the loss of the golden brother/son who wanted to see the world. 

Baker’s storytelling crescendos throughout the story but reaches great volume when later generations discover hidden letters and secrets that tore the family apart all those years ago.  The history of our nation is rich and told well in I Gave My Heart to Know This.  Little known facts enriched the everyday actions and helped create a very realistic feeling for the reader.  I feel like these characters truly lived there on that rural farm and cried real tears.  Though most of the time the vibe of the book is sad and melancholy, I was rewarded with one of the best endings I’ve read as of late.

I can’t tell you with enough urgency TO BUY I GAVE MY HEART TO KNOW THIS ON AUGUST 2nd and while you’re waiting for that day to come TO READ KEEPING THE HOUSE NOW! Sorry for “yelling” but I felt it extremely necessary.🙂

Thank you to the lovely, kind, friendly and interesting Ellen Baker for thinking of me when she received her galleys of I Gave My Heart to Know This and felt the need to get one to me as early as she did.  I’m sorry it took so long to finally read it!  I adore her and our pen-pal friendship.  XOXO

{Rating ~ 5 out of 5}

7 thoughts on “I Gave My Heart to Know This by Ellen Baker

  1. Keeping the House is my favorite book and I am sure I Gave My Heart to Know This will be too!!! I can’t wait! 🙂

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