Don't Put the Boats Away: A Novel

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She Writes Press, 2019 M08 26 - 292 pages
2 Reviews
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In the aftermath of World War II, the members of the Sutton family are reeling from the death of their “golden boy,” Eddie. Over the next twenty-five years, they all struggle with loss, grief, and mourning. Daughter Harriet and son Nat attempt to fill the void Eddie left behind: Harriet becomes a chemist despite an inhospitable culture for career women in the 1940s and ’50s, hoping to move into the family business in New Jersey, while Nat aims to be a jazz musician. Both fight with their autocratic father, George, over their professional ambitions as they come of age. Their mother, Eleanor, who has PTSD as a result of driving an ambulance during the Great War, wrestles with guilt over never telling Eddie about the horrors of war before he enlisted. As the members of the family attempt to rebuild their lives, they pay high prices, including divorce and alcoholism—but in the end, they all make peace with their losses, each in his or her own way.
 

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User Review  - susan0316 - LibraryThing

It's 1945 and the Sutton family has lost their oldest son in WWII. The parents and the remaining two children have to learn to live life with the knowledge that he won't be coming home. George, the ... Read full review

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Reviewed by Tiffany Ferrell for Readers' Favorite
It’s 1945 and the war in Europe and Japan has just ended. Harriet and Nat are two siblings who have completely different dreams about what they
want to achieve. Harriet wants to take her father’s place at the chemical plant he runs, so she goes to Wisconsin to study chemistry. Since her brother Eddie passed away in the final days of the war, Harriet hopes that her dad would now look to her to keep his company running when he retires. Nat is the youngest child and a passionate lover of music. When he gets kicked out of Andover for failing grades, his parents send him to work at a cousin's mill in Minnesota rather than let him pursue his dream of being a musician. It is grueling work but after a while, Nat finds a way to play the saxophone he loves. Meanwhile, after Harriet graduates, she is finally hired by her father to help create a fungicide that will preserve food better than what is currently available. It’s the opposite of what she had done at the University of Wisconsin, but she soon finds herself liking it. Their mother, on the other hand, had gone back to school and wants to learn more about psychology. She battles with alcohol, PTSD from her working during WWII, and a bitter resentment she has towards her husband, who she blames along with herself for convincing Eddie to join the army which resulted in his death.
I found Don’t Put The Boats Away by Ames Sheldon a very interesting read. I began the book thinking it was just about Harriet but then realized it was also about her brother Nat. The main characters are well-thought-out and relatable. It also was very realistic when it came to Harriet's and Nat's storylines. So many women gave up their careers in the late 40s and 50s when they got married and had children, in Harriet’s case. While her career is put on the back burner, her younger brother is having all kinds of doors opening up for him. I find his particular story very fascinating and sad at the same time. Here we have a talented young man who fought for his freedom from his father to play music, only to become entrapped by a woman he thought he loved but realized too late what her intentions were. It’s a situation many people know only too well and can empathize with. The wheel of fortune in life is always turning and life is constantly changing with good and bad events. As we read, we can see one sibling's fortunes rise while the other takes a dive and so forth. This made it more appealing to me because it’s not the typical happy ending or the characters having happy lives throughout the book. The story plays out as if we are reading about the lives of a very real pair of siblings. Don’t Put The Boats Away by Ames Sheldon is a unique book that many historical fiction readers would enjoy.
 

Contents

Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8
Section 15
Section 16
Section 17
Section 18
Section 19
Section 20
Section 21
Section 22

Section 9
Section 10
Section 11
Section 12
Section 13
Section 14
Section 23
Section 24
Section 25
Section 26
Copyright

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About the author (2019)

Ames Sheldon worked as a reporter for two small-town newspapers in Minnesota before becoming lead author and editor of Women’s History Sources: A Guide to Archives and Manuscript Collections in the United States, which ignited her passion for studying and writing about the history of women in America. After that, Sheldon ventured into the world of creative nonfiction, writing grant proposals and raising funds for the Sierra Club in San Francisco, the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, the Minneapolis Public Library, and a variety of other nonprofits. She lives with her husband in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

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