Elmer & Virginia by John Odell is an emotional and illuminating memoir of two young people in love, but forever changed by World War II. Their personal story is told through a compilation of letters Elmer and Virginia sent to one another. These letters were handwritten with love between the years of 1939 and 1944. The letters are endearing and really capture the feel of the times. I also admire their determination to keep a strong connection in a long distance relationship. At one point in the collection of letters, Virginia gets upset when Elmer doesn’t write her back. These moments ensure readers understand that these were humans doing their best in tough times.
Virginia, or affectionately called by Elmer in the letters “Ginny”, was a college student at Syracuse University. She expressed her love through poems throughout her letters. I enjoyed the poems that involved addressing her inner self. One poem in particular addressed her love for another man by the name of George Hall. Though later as I read on, it was made clear that no one had her heart like Elmer Odell. Virginia also had a diary where she would journal her more personal stories. Some snippets were used to help better understand the connection between her and Elmer. Unlike today where people capture their life stories in videos on Instagram and Twitter, these letters and poems bring you back to a time when life was not necessarily simpler, but a whole world different, and John Odell is able to capture that in this emotionally resonant biography.
Pictures of Elmer & Virginia and the letters were included in this collection. This, for me, was critical in connecting with them both and I really enjoyed seeing them. The chemistry between the two was as organic as it can get. They shared a love of music and dancing that helped their love to become deeper. It was interesting to read the terms and phrases that were used during that time as well as follow Elmer’s enlistment in the air corps.
Elmer & Virginia is a beautiful reflection on love and war. This is a book that has the ability to transport you back to that time and let you inhabit the personal lives of two very intriguing people.
Pages: 488 | ASIN: B08ZL49728
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