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General Fiction Review   

 

The War in Sallie’s Station
By Mignon Franklin Ballard
Five Star, 2001
ISBN:  0-7862-3377-X

 

 
 

Mignon Ballard revisited her childhood in Calhoun, Georgia for the inspiration of growing up during World War II in Sallie’s Station, Georgia.  But don’t expect Mayberry here, there are those cherished small town memories, but Ballard adds the realities that brings to mind Peyton Place and The Children’s HourThe War in Sallie’s Station is filled with secrets – those that adults choose to keep to protect the innocent and those that children take oaths to keep to hide their guilt.

Ballard writes parallel stories that conclude with a revelation.  The present day story follows Frannie Hughes as she takes care of her grown children and her mother.  The other story is set when Frannie is age ten and the country is focused on World War II. 

Young Frannie and her friends lose their innocence in the changing world where small town heroes go to war and don’t come home.  The actions the children take to right wrongs have severe consequences.  The children carry that guilt through life.

Middle-aged Frannie is reunited with her friend Hannah,  who is dealing with the secret of the child she gave up for adoption coming to light.  Frannie is also dealing with her mother’s depression over the fire that destroyed “the old home place” and took the life of the mentally unstable crippled woman.  Frannie’s grown children need her – one is having a troubled pregnancy, one is moving up north, and the one boy needs to grow up.  Yet, Frannie barely has time to deal with her biggest problem – a lump in her breast.

The War in Sallie’s Station is an emotional novel of how the confused actions of children can haunt them in life; yet, how the secrets of adults could release children from this confusion and guilt. 

In light of America’s current war, The War in Sallie’s Station becomes an interesting parallel study.  The passages on death, grief, patriotism, and loss of innocence – all have a potent effect on the reading.

 

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

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