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Wandering Hearts    by Donna J. Grisanti order for
Wandering Hearts
by Donna J. Grisanti
Order:  USA  Can
Phoenix Publishing, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Donna Grisanti's first novel, Wandering Hearts, is a monumental effort that pulls at the heartstrings. This story of love, hate, death, heartache, war, and poverty swells with characters who mostly seem to do the right thing at the right time. There are a few who are self-centered, but aren't there always?

Raine Foster, on the road with two young cousins just prior to World War II, meets Touhy, homeless himself. Touhy, as you would expect, ends up being their protector and proves to be a sterling person. With no real destination in mind, just possible ones, all four end up living and working at the orchard farm of China Joe. Meeting some of the townfolk proves both providential and disastrous. This is a story of everyday people who fall on hard times and survive. Suspicion and wariness evolve around China Joe once the war starts. Could he be a spy?

Grueling hard work makes a success of the orchard farm. I found it tiring just to read of the day-to-day work that is accomplished. Life moves on as it does for us all with its joys and tragedies. Wandering Hearts is an epic novel of a few years in the lives of the main players. There are quite a number of typos but don't let them deter you. And though I could see the ending coming long before the dramatic conclusion, it didn't diminish its impact.

The fun part for me was reliving those years just prior to the war and through to 1945. A child at the time, I didn't live with the lack of electricity or hot running water or the outhouse as Raine did, but I could identify with the ration stamps and shortage of most everything - as well as having two brothers and my mother's twin in the Marines in the Pacific. Mother was a survivor also.

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