In Come from Away, shopkeeper Grace Baker falls in love with a man she meets at a Christmas dance in Nova Scotia in the 1940s. When he shows up at her shop a few days later and tells her he’s a trapper come from away, she hopes they can pick up on the connection they both seemed to feel at that Christmas dance. What Grace doesn’t realize is that Rudi is actually a German soldier, whose U-boat was destroyed in an accident along the shores of East Jeddore and who is now struggling to survive in Canada. While he no longer has any desire to continue fighting for Germany, Rudi’s very presence is a threat and a painful reminder of Grace’s brothers and neighbours who are all risking their lives overseas to fight soldiers just like Rudi.
Come from Away is such a sweet love story. I love how Grace and Rudi get to know each other despite the language barrier, and I love how their relationship feels so fragile throughout. More than a romance, however, Come from Away feels like a family story. Grace is the youngest child and only daughter of Audrey and Danny from Tides of Honour, and the way the family comes together to deal with Rudi’s entry into their lives is heartwarming. I like how Grace and her parents are all mindful of Grace’s brothers’ experiences in the war, and how it might feel for them to see a German soldier welcomed into their family. But I especially like how Grace’s parents also realize that if it was their sons in Rudi’s situation, they’d want their sons to be treated with kindness. Even the purported villain, the girlfriend of one of the brothers who wants to turn Rudi in, has an understandable motive.
Come from Away is a fascinating glimpse into a period of Canadian history, and particularly a family in Nova Scotia who is doing their best to deal with the turbulent and difficult circumstances of war.
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Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.