As friends move from the safe enclave of Lukens that has always been her home, Ella Marie Hutchins struggles with the decision to leave the disappearing coastal town near Oriental. Her choice might be made for her when World War II edges closer to the North Carolina village, but not before a visiting sailor named Griff teaches her how to see anew the treasures of life both above and below the ocean's surface. Is Griff really what he appears to be?A Taste from page 22:
She jumped to her feet and ran as fast as she could to the nearest oak tree. Her heart banged so loudly in her chest that she felt sure she'd be discovered. How did they get in here? The water, it's too shallow! That wasn't a sub, not here. What was it? A raft? Yes, a bobbing raft with a sweeping searchlight and a smaller red light held over a chart. Gathering her wits, Ella ran as fast as she could toward town. Looking back over her shoulder to see whether she was being followed, she slowed. In an instant, a strong arm reached out and grabbed her, a gloved hand tightly clasped over her mouth.Leaving Lukens by Laura Wharton starts out beautifully. The first chapter is written in the now as old friends meet again at a homecoming in 2000. Then the narration slips back in time to the year 1942 when The War was all around and Lukens was on the verge of becoming a ghost town as its residents moved to less isolated locales. It was in the first chapter that I fell in love with Ella. She seemed such a mysterious and sweet woman. The reader is transported back in time through her memories. This first third of the book is entrancing and easy to read. Things get a little slow as we move into the second third and I found myself wanting to get on with the adventure that I was sure was looming in the coming pages. Finally we get there and the story changes from a simple love story to a tale of intrigue and danger.
There are two basic plots that thread through this story: a sweet love story and a story of mystery and war. The only issue I had with it all, was that the author tended to lose one thread while she concentrated on the other. This was not a huge distraction from enjoying the book, though. Leaving Lukens is a pleasant read and perfectly appropriate for the younger YA crowd as well as adults who like a little mystery thrown in with an innocent romance.
Character Development 4