I first met Terri Wangard almost ten years ago, on an American Christian Fiction Writers critique group for historical writers. At the time, I was writing a 1920s novel. I believe Terri was writing one of her many “war stories” (she may not care for that terminology).
Being a newcomer to the world of writers’ groups, I was sometimes overwhelmed. Terri’s chapters grounded me. I loved history and her stories celebrated it. I was also new to research. I had done some, but my work paled in the shadow of hers. I was not discouraged, however. I was encouraged and inspired to dig deeper and work harder.
Through social media, I have kept up with Terri and her publishing journey. She is still writing her wonderful historical stories, combining humor and grace with what feels like actual events—real stories—proof of a good researcher.
Her latest novel, The Storm Breaks Forth, follows the experiences of a German-American family during the first world war. Here is her back cover blurb:
World War I rages in Europe, and now the United States joins in. Peter Bloch heads to France with the Wisconsin National Guard, but his wife Maren is the one under attack. She’s German born, and anti-German hysteria is running high. Simple suggestions for coping with wartime measures lead Maren into an active role in the community, but her service doesn’t help deflect suspicion from her. Zealous patriots target her with a vengeance. Peter caught the eye of a major who seems intent on using him as a spy. He’s been fortunate to avoid injury so far, but these activities are likely to get him killed. Peter and Maren dream of the day they will be reunited, but more and more, that day appears to be a mirage.
The story is a good one, often keeping me on the edge of my chair, clicking pages. The war scenes are gritty and real enough to please my action-adventure loving hubby. The home scenes with Maren made my heart ache for her as she faces hate and discrimination.
I had expected a high level of historical accuracy and Wangard did not disappoint. She doesn’t overfill the scenes with facts and figures. She marinates them to the point where, the history is part of the entire scene, incorporating all five senses.
Some situations are reminiscent of what happened last year as our country endured a pandemic and social tensions. This may be why I identified so well with Maren. I also love strong female leads and Maren fits the bill by bouncing back each time she’s knocked down. Something else we learned last year. When tough times come, resiliency is key.
Last, but not least, faith triumphs over all the hardships presented in Wangard’s story. We all know or have known heroes who attribute their success to faith in God. Maren and Peter Bloch show that faith throughout the story and keep moving forward through times that would cripple an ordinary person.
I highly recommend The Storm Breaks Forth. History fans will love its authenticity and realism. Most readers will enjoy the story, especially the ending.
I received a copy of this book from the author with no expectation of a favorable review. The opinions are my own.
Terri Wangard’s first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she is writing historical fiction, and won the 2013 Writers on the Storm contest and 2013 First Impressions of the American Christian Fiction Writers, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. Her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber.