Behind the Wire by Andrea Myers

“Behind the Wire” by Andrea Myers takes place in Scotts Bluff County as World War II rages across the ocean. After the death of the author’s grandmother, the family discovered a stash of WWII era letters her grandmother had kept. Letters from several men, including Thomas, Charles and Bob. None of these men were her grandfather. Who were these men her grandmother corresponded with during the war, and why did she save their letters? Sounds like a great idea for a novel.

Building her novel around the many questions these letters call to mind, Myers introduces us to  a group of college friends at the cusp of a war that will change their lives in many ways. Three men write to Margaret (the main character) throughout the war. Myers said she didn’t change a word of any of the letters she used, but the novel is not necessarily based on actual events.

As the novel opens, Margaret is studying business but her heart is in journalism at the University of Nebraska. After the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, she and many other students left school, either to enlist or go back home to live with their parents in 1942. Margaret struggles under the overbearing thumb of her mother in Gering. She takes a job at the prisoner of war camp in Scottsbluff where she gets to know Italian and German prisoners as well as the military officers stationed there.

Myers writes about PTSD, which I haven’t noticed mentioned in the WWII fiction I’ve read. Soldiers coming home from war with mental and emotional scars is not new. PTSD was called Shell Shock in WWI and Battle Rattle in WWII. Informed through her personal experiences, Myers highlights the aftermath of the trauma soldiers faced as they tried to navigate life after war.

Myers has created a cast of likable characters in her book, Margaret, June and Bea form an isosceles triangle of friends, supporting each other. The soldiers who write Margaret become fully developed characters through their letters. Myers’ novel follows a nice pace throughout the book, and it’s an entertaining read. She includes shout-outs to area sites that locals will appreciate.

In this quote Margaret is speaking about her plans after the war, “‘I truly hope that when I’m back in Lincoln I can focus on school without putting on an act for everyone that I’m more interested in men than my studies. I want a fresh start.’

‘If you want fresh, Bob’s probably your guy. He’s not holding back on that innuendo.’…Bea waggled her eyebrows at her.”

I would recommend “Behind the Wire” by Andrea Myers to anyone who enjoys WWII books, and anyone who likes to read about the history of the North Platte Valley. It will be available soon at the Gering Library, but you can find it for sale in local stores. It’s also available through online booksellers.

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