Set in a small, dying, fishing village on North Carolina’s coast in 1942, the novel Leaving Lukens is as much of an action book as it is a love story filled with coming-of-age questions during a challenging time in North Carolina’s World War II history. Painstaking research about the time, the war’s impact, and the settings of Lukens (which was once a thriving, real community), New Bern, and attacks by German U-boats on the Atlantic fleet will be of interest to any reader interested in World War II or North Carolina history.
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Reviewed by Alice D. for Readers Favorite Laura S. Wharton has created in "Leaving Lukens" a delightful romantic thriller of the World War II era. Set on the island of Lukens, which is near New Bern on the Carolina mainlands, "Leaving Lukens" is more than a story of the islanders leaving their homes for the mainland where school age children will be educated. It is about how close the horrors of World War II, Nazi submarines and Nazi naval warriors, came to our coastlines, threatening life in small seaside villages like New Bern, Oriental and the island of Lukens. The story's main character is 17 year old Ella Marie Hutchins, who is moving with her mother Louise to the mainland and the home of her mother's fiance. We read about Ella's romance with local Jarrett Migette fizzles, especially when Ella is rescued from invasive Nazis by mysterious stranger Will Griffin who is posing as a local family's nephew. Actually, Griff is a Navy officer working undercover but he shares his love of diving to investigate old ship wrecks with Ella. Will Ella find a lasting future with Griff or will the winds of war separate them? "Leaving Lukens" is a highly well-written and well-edited story of World War II that brings home to the post-war generations how our country's coastlines were touched by the awfulness of war. Characters such as Ella, Griff, Jessica and Jack, Ella's mother and grandmother are totally believable and in keeping with those long ago times. Ella and Griff's attraction to each other is beautifully portrayed and obeys the social mores of those years of the early 1940's. The plot flows to the ending which will more than satisfy the reader. Laura Wharton is an author to follow. Put "Leaving Lukens" on reading lists everywhere.
Leaving Lukens by Laura Wharton starts out beautifully. The first chapter is written in the now as old friends meet again at a homecoming in 2000. Then the narration slips back in time to the year 1942 when The War was all around and Lukens was on the verge of becoming a ghost town as its residents moved to less isolated locales. It was in the first chapter that I fell in love with Ella. She seemed such a mysterious and sweet woman. The reader is transported back in time through her memories. This first third of the book is entrancing and easy to read. Things get a little slow as we move into the second third and I found myself wanting to get on with the adventure that I was sure was looming in the coming pages. Finally we get there and the story changes from a simple love story to a tale of intrigue and danger. There are two basic plots that thread through this story: a sweet love story and a story of mystery and war. The only issue I had with it all, was that the author tended to lose one thread while she concentrated on the other. This was not a huge distraction from enjoying the book, though. Leaving Lukens is a pleasant read and perfectly appropriate for the younger YA crowd as well as adults who like a little mystery thrown in with an innocent romance.