BIG WAR, Little Wars

A Young Adult Historical Novel
A Story For All Ages

PHOTONOPSIS is a word coined by the author, a photographic synopsis of this story and those who endured World War II–the Big War. There were also plenty of conflicts on the home front, or the Little Wars.

familyMeet the Jaeger family—Daddy, Milla, Peggy and Momma. They had recently escaped the not-so-great Great Depression from a location in Wisconsin they called Up North.

During a surprise attack on December 7, 1941, the Japanese drop bombs on Pearl Harbor. The Jaegers are stuck in Tralmer’s Trailer Camp. Dreams are placed on hold.

Five of Milla’s older cousins are sent to fight in Uncle Sam’s army. They leave deer rifles behind to hunt the enemy on foreign soil. Milla’s primary concern is for Raymie, a sharpshooter, sent to the European frontlines.

MillaMilla is patriotic: She writes to her servicemen cousins, she sells saving’s stamps in her school classroom. Peggy saves foil from gum wrappers and candy bars. Momma counts ration stamps and recycles aluminum cans. Signs at gas stations proclaim NO PLEASURE DRIVING, so Daddy curtails his trips Up North. Everyone must “make do.”

The Depression had marked Momma; she doesn’t forget that her daughters had often gone to bed hungry. A city provides opportunities. She trades the drudgery of making ends meet for rare moments of leisure; Daddy imagines returning home, to Up North. Disagreements concerning their future continue throughout the war years.

housePlans for a frame house on a shady street were replaced with a “temporary” move into a silver trailer that Momma labels “a cracker box on wheels.”

Instead of buying bobby sox, Milla spends her earnings on packets of V-Mail. Contact between those in service and their loved ones travels overseas via ship or airplane.

V MailMilla writes of every-day happenings. But Raymie responds with little about his life in service. He writes of the past, like the time he helped steer their car while Aunt Teresa drove. Milla and her cousin Betsy had giggled from the rumble seat of the roadster.

Aunt TeresaMilla and Gwen are the most popular babysitters in Tralmer’s Trailer Camp. Milla was hurt when Gwen and her family left without goodbyes. What hadn’t Gwen divulged?

Children outgrow their shoes, car tires wear thin. Even the basic necessities in life are rationed.

family carThe war becomes personal when Milla’s friend Tamika is banned from their malt shop hangout. A sign on the door states NO JAPS SERVED HERE. An Executive Order issued by the President sent Japanese Americans to detainment camps. Fear is aroused.

Milla’s friend CeeCee is content to be their age. Reno—another Camp kid—is nearly as irritating as an outbreak of poison ivy. Is she boy crazy or merely in love with love?

Cee CeeCeeCee’s brother Curtis carries on a secret flirtation with Milla. But his parents encourage him to concentrate on becoming his school’s track star. And so he does.

Milla questions the war. She makes a vow in exchange for Raymie’s safe return. She cannot explain their bond—not to Daddy, not to her friends CeeCee and Reno, and not even to herself.

CurtisMilla’s nightmares frighten her sister, but Peggy is sworn to secrecy. What triggers them?

guitarTransients are the dreamers passing through Tralmer’s Camp en route to somewhere else. Milla dreamed she would play her father’s guitar. Must some dreams be replaced?

Momma panicked when they saw the movie Hitler’s Children. Why did she react as she did?

What long-kept secret is revealed to Milla after a series of events she calls miracles occur?

RaymiePresident Roosevelt suddenly dies in the spring of 1945 and Hitler commits suicide. Soon after, the Nazi army is defeated. But where is Raymie? V-Mail does not reveal an answer.

In the winter of 1941, dropped bombs triggered a world-wide war. In the summer of 1945, dropped bombs end that war. Milla wonders: Is any war really won?

Milla is weary of dwelling on the past and waiting for the future. She wants to live in the moment, hoping that it will include a special someone.

girlsIn 1945 saddle shoes and bobby sox, pleated skirts and windbreakers are the accepted style. Milla, CeeCee, and Reno step from a streetcar into a world far removed from grade school.

service flagOn her first day at We Mi Hi, Milla is surprised by who she encounters. What lies ahead?

Service Flags displaying blue stars hang in windows of those with loved ones in service. No mother wants one of her blue stars to be replaced with a star of gold.

basketballReno and Milla had never shared an interest in the same boy—not until one Friday when We Mi Hi’s newly enrolled basketball star enters Milla’s life in the school’s gymnasium.

Could Lee have anything to do with a mystery gift delivered to Milla before Christmas?

Five of Milla’s cousins went off to war even though they were needed on the family farms. Once peace treaties are signed, the waiting seems endless to learn whether or not they will all return.

menHow did these men influence Raymie’s length of duty?

Answers to these questions are woven into the words throughout the pages of this novel.