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A forbidden friendship with a badly disfigured soldier in the aftermath of World War I forces thirteen-year-old Annie to redefine the word "hero" and to question conventional ideas of patriotism....
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A forbidden friendship with a badly disfigured soldier in the aftermath of World War I forces thirteen-year-old Annie to redefine the word "hero" and to question conventional ideas of patriotism.
My father came home from the war last April. Mother and I drove into town to meet him at the Kansas City train station, the warm day humming around our new Model T as we passed the newly green wheat fields and then the river and then the edges of the city. As we walked to the station, I heard the chug of a train from the tracks hidden below us. What if Father had arrived and we weren't there? After all this time.
I walked, half-running, to the brass doors of the station, pulled them open and stepped into the shadows. Standing a moment to let my eyes adjust, I pulled off my sailor hat and fanned my hot face. Hot for April.
"Annie!" Mother behind me. "You go so fast! I can't keep up with you anymore."
"We've got to be there. I want to be there when . . ."
"I know. I'm anxious to see him too. But we're early." She straightened her wide-brimmed hat and slipped her arm through mine. "Come on. Let's go find him."
We were the first ones at the platform where the troop train was to arrive, except for some men who lounged around two trucks painted with huge red crosses. The men laughed as they leaned across the hoods of the ambulances to exchange cigarettes.
Mother glanced at them and then moved to the very edge of the platform, her hands clenched, the feather on her hat trembling.
A year and a half earlier, my father had left from this same station. He had explained a little about the war to me, how it had started in 1914 and that Americans were now going to France to fight. I had known all this from school and from the talk around the dinner table for the past three years. And because Uncle Paul had already gone.
"But I'll bestationed in a hospital in New York, Annie. I won't be in any fighting. Not even near. Can you see me with a gun?" He chuckled. "So don't worry." He hugged me to him. "Everything will be all right."
I had already seen pen drawings in the newspapers of soldiers with bandaged eyes standing in aid stations, of soldiers lying on hospital beds in France. These were the men my father was now going to help. But even though I knew how much he was needed, I clung to him beside the train the day he left and begged him not to go. I was much younger then.
But now my father was coming home, I was thirteen, and I knew much more about the Great War.
By the time the train was due to arrive, we were surrounded by other wives and children, other families. Mother stood on her tiptoes to see over the crowd, gripping my shoulders for support, looking down the length of the tracks.
I looked at the people around us-women in their bright dresses and big hats, children hiding behind skirts, boys and girls my age in knickers and in middy blouses. Did any of them feel as I did, half elated, half frightened?
I looked down at my hat and tried to smooth out the brim I had crumpled into a mass of wrinkles. Frightened? Not of my father. Life hadn't been the same without him. I had missed him terribly and wanted him home with us. But . . . two years. I had changed.
A cheer. Steam rose above the heads of the crowd as the train huffed in under the high vault of the station and sighed to a stop.
The healthy men got off first, jumping off the train, running along the platform, searching faces and tumbling into embraces. Handsome, strong men who had gone off like Uncle Paul to fight in the battles we had followed on the maps, to fight because of the kings, the Russian czar and the German kaiser, all the names I had learned in the last two years.
But Uncle Paul would not be coming home, not on this train or any other. One year after he left home for France, he died. As I stood beside my mother on the train platform and watched the men coming home, I thought of the day the telegram came. It was a day in June and I was helping Grandmother make raspberry jam, so I was there to answer the door and to take the telegram from the young boy who stood on the porch and looked sorry. I thanked him and then put the envelope on the hall table.
It had come here. So it wasn't Father. Anyway, he wasn't fighting. He was a doctor. I reached out to the envelope that looked so white against the dark wood, but I didn't touch it.
"You know," I told myself. "You know. It has to be him.
As long as I just looked at the envelope, as long as I didn't open it, Uncle Paul was still alive.
"Annie, these berries won't keep. Who's at the door?" Grandmother's voice from the kitchen.
"If I throw away the telegram," I thought, "nothing would change. We could go on, happy. . ."
I reached out to the table, picked up the envelope and turned. Grandfather stood in the door.
I looked at him a moment and then said, "This came," and I handed him the envelope. And then he knew too, because in 1918 a telegram meant only one thing. Paul was dead.
Now as the soldiers came off the train and ran by me, I looked into each man's face. Maybe it had been a mistake. Maybe Uncle Paul hadn't died after all and was coming home on this train with Father.
The crowd thinned. I took a deep breath and looked at Mother. She put her arm around my shoulder. My hat wouldn't uncurl. Neither would my stomach. I hated waiting.
Posted September 17, 2007
After the Dancing Days Review By Alice Lyrio After the Dancing Days is a sad story of a girl named Annie and her family dealing with the tragic deaths in World War I and family problems. Annie, the narrator and main character tells readers about her life and struggles. Annie visits the injured soldiers in the hospital her fathers working at, and finds a friend Andrew with a bad gas burn that affected his life but Annie gives him the courage to stay strong. Another important character in the book is her mother, Annie¿s mother is struggling with Annie¿s decisions to go to the hospital because she does not want Annie to worry at her age about the ill men. Her mother also thinks everyone should forget about the war and kind of get on with their lives, but Annie is determined to help Andrew. She spends most of her time caring to Andrew and making him feel better. She also reads to a blind man named Timmy, who is her grandfathers old friend. I particularly liked this book because Annie is such a wonderful girl she was so caring and has much respect for her elders. But nobody exactly understands Annie, everyone in town feels just as her mother does except Annie¿s loving grandpa and her father of course. Annie¿s grandfather has the same personality as Annie. I think Annie¿s better traits comes from her grandfather, and I think a lot of the story can be predicted through him because her grandfather and her are a lot alike, so you can see what will happen. Even when she betrays her mothers wishes to see Andrew she ends up confessing what she had done. She matures by the end of the book when it comes to overcoming the sadness of her uncle dying, and I love that the author puts a sad yet happy theme to the book. So much sadness in the main story, but by the end of the book there¿s more of a ¿good for you¿ attitude. This shocking tearjerker is perfect for young people such as myself because I think it portrays how hard it was for families after World War I. The author, Margret I. Rostkowski uses a tone in her novel that really puts you in the story, and you can imagine the faces the scenes without the pictures. If you choose to read After the Dancing Days be prepared for suspense and touched felt moments.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 8, 2009
This powerful novel unlocks he mysteries behind what a young girl can truly be capable of achieving. during this book i cried laughed and connected, and to me that only could mean that this book is among the best ever. i am a young girl age of 14 and i truly understood what it meant to mature after i read this book. annie the protagnist took her life and made it something. at first she was scared of the responsibility and well, the people she was around at her fathers work yet she grew up and had an amazing journey she will never forget doing so.this book is by far the best book i have ever read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 17, 2007
The book I had read had a different cover. It looked boring, but the story was a wonderful. Like they say, 'Don't judge a book by its cover!'
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Posted November 2, 2006
It is always great to know that other people also enjoyed a book you loved. I am 26 years old and must have read it for the first time when I was round about 13 - since then I've read it a couple of times, and hope to one day recommend it for my daughter. A touching story focussing on everyday courage and kindness.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 1, 2006
im a teenager and homeschooled and my mom gave me this to read. i thought it wouldn't be interesting because it was about world war 2, and i have totally had enough war reading material. it is now my favorite book. it has a sweet romance, not awsome sweet, and stirs your emotions. if i had a choice, i would give it 6 stars.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 15, 2005
I read this book in fifth grade,I am now a freshman. I know the main plot of the story, but am quite vague on the small details since i have read many more books since then. I'm not sure why this book stiks to me, but after so many years, i still remember that this story was my first favorite novel.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 6, 2005
I first read this book when I was thirteen, shortly after its original release. Since then I have read it several times and bought it for teachers and friends. It has always struck a cord in my heart. A member of my family has been in every military conflict that the USA has been a part of. I feel that everyone should read this book at least once. Our Vetrans deserve to be treated with the greatest of respect. Which is something that, this story shows does not always happen.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 2, 2004
This book tuched my heart I just didnt want to put the book down. The first night I read almost the whole book. My review might not be the greatest but I am also I young Lady of 14 years old. If kids all rond the world read this book they would see the world very differently then they do now. I learned that even if some is different then you doesnt mean they are not like you. I think if you helped some one that was different then you they well want to help them self.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 4, 2003
When i first checked the book out i thought that i would hate but once i finished reading it i never wanted to the book to end. In fact i am planning to buy the book becadsue it was soooo good and not many books can make me cry but this one did at the end.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 9, 2002
Posted June 5, 2001
I think that this book was great. I read it when I was younger, and I still remember, even now, how great it was. After I was done reading it, I honestly stopped and thought about the impact it had on me. I could not put the book down and read it in a few days again. Although put down by some critics for its errors in it's time frame, this book is definatly worth a second glance.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 25, 2001
This book captured the essence of what life was like for a teenager living in times of The Great War(World War 1). It explains the struggles of one man that was effected by the War. (He was poisoned with mustard gas.) The book is historically accurate because there are connections to other books in the time period.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 5, 2000
This book intrigues one's mind and holds one's attention. No matter the reader's preference in genra, the reader will somehow be able to relate to the situations and the problems presented in this book. It requires the reader to be able to produce images of the characters in the mind. This becomes easy because the characters are well developed and described. Overall, this book is a good one for readers who crave self-expression.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 26, 2008
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