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Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Wooden Nickel

The Wooden Nickel by Alisha Paige
Publisher: Wings ePress
Genre: Historical
Length: Full
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

When eleven year old Louise steps into a bread line in the middle of a dusty Texas town during The Great Depression, the last thing she expects to find is a filthy hobo-boy taking pity on her. Fourteen year old Cliff gives her his last piece of change, a worthless wooden nickel.

In the school yard, Cliff boasts of his adventurous hobo existence, traveling from town to town in search of work. Louise offers the old barn at the back of her parents’ property as a hideout for Cliff and his brother, Hank. The years slide by as Cliff learns the art of reporting, studying under Louise's father, a well known Southern newspaper man. Puppy love blossoms into real love as Cliff falls head over heels with his boss's daughter. War begins brewing three thousand miles away and Cliff is sent to bring home the news. Will first love survive war, the Holocaust and years of separation?

The Depression era coin proves to be worth far more than the five cents etched beside the wooden buffalo as it becomes a symbol of faith, hope and love, weaving in and out of their lives time and time again.

How far can puppy love go? In Alisha Paige's tantalizing new tale, The Wooden Nickel, the harshest of economic settings becomes the backdrop for an endearing -and we hope - an enduring love.

The Great Depression leads into the war years, and throughout, it is not only love, but hope that sustains our characters, Cliff and Louise. Cliff is that everyman of his time, self-possessed, gentlemanly, even though his background might suggest otherwise. The expectations of the times have a strong bearing on each of the main characters, not only on how they live but on their expectations for themselves. Re-creating The Depression years required more than an understanding of events, but an empathy for the mores of the times - and here Paige does not disappoint. Her characters are wonderfully true to their times, although Louise will also give us the bonus of perceptions from a later time, as well.

The descriptions - from life in small town Texas to the struggles of war marching on Europe, are well-visualized. The pace will meander, and the very beginning is a trifle slow, with perhaps too much dwelling on back story. However, the characters built from this are intriguing, and once the first pages are past, it is no effort to keep reading.

Fans of historic time-periods will thoroughly enjoy The Wooden Nickel, but romance fans will find a delightful, old-fashioned sort of love, fashioned in these pages. You will enjoy the time, the events, the places -- but you will simply love Louise and Cliff. Love is truly the center of this delightful novel, and readers will find themselves full of hope, too.