To be honest, I’m not a big WWII buff. Perhaps the reason why I lack enthusiasm is due to dull and dry history lessons of my youth. Although I enjoyed map-making, I’d blank out when instructed to memorize dates and battles, the names of planes and ships, and so on. I remember thinking that my teacher seemed just as bored with the rote Friday quiz prep as I was. Too bad WAIT FOR ME ( Harper Teen, 2017) hadn’t been published back then. World History would’ve taken on a whole new dimension if it had.
In WAIT FOR ME, debut author Caroline Leech did a masterful job of first telling an intriguing story of love and loss, and then sewing facts throughout using tiny, transparent, yet historically sound stitches. She gave me well-developed characters that I could believe in, agonize for, and fall in love with. She gave me a rich setting – Scotland – home of my ancestors, the mighty Mackay clan. As a bonus, she gave me a dog whose devotion shifts from its master to a stranger, which is highly unsettling for those of us smitten with passion for pups. Most importantly, Caroline boldly explored the definition and humanity of an enemy. Are all enemies inherently evil? Can allies behave like enemies to their own? Do enemies have redemptive qualities? Do enemies feel heartache? Is it wrong to love an enemy?
The last thing Caroline gave me is ample fodder to develop an Educator’s Guide. Capitalizing on her expert fusion of fact and fiction, I approached this project with the intention to inspire the forlorn World History student I once was. WAIT FOR ME showed me the error of my WWII resistant ways. I’ve been redeemed. I got totally lost in researching facts for the guide. My hope is that, unlike my experience with WWII studies, this guide will help encourage contemporary students to do the same.