It's 1944, and high school senior Meg Michaels has always obeyed her grandparents' wishes, till now. They're urging her to give up her dream of Cornell University and accept a ring from wealthy Hank Wickham before he deploys overseas. But Meg has studied hard and yearns for something better than life in the rural Finger Lakes. Plus Meg's suddenly fascinated with her childhood friend, Arthur Young, a handsome Seneca Indian farm worker. When Meg and Arthur nurse a sick puppy to health, their friendship transforms into love. But locals look down on "injuns" and resent the fact that Arthur's farm job exempts him from military duty. While the war rages in Europe, Meg and Arthur must fight their own battles at home…
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This one was a short and fast read. I flew through the pages. Meg is a teenager living with her grandparents. She grows a sudden interest towards Arthur who she claims has been like a brother all her life. Then there's Hank, a guy she knows she should be interested in instead. I liked Meg. She's cute if not a little boring. But I liked Arthur more. It's easy to feel for him when you have half the town looking down on him. But I feel that there was so much more to him that could be explored. I liked Meg and Arthur's interactions. But I thought the whole love story happened too fast. I'd have liked more details and developed story. I think this books started and ended too abruptly. It felt like this was part of a story than a whole story by itself. By the end, I wanted more from the story. More character development, more descriptions, more depth, more story-building, more backstory. Just more. I felt the whole time that I was seeing the world through a lens. It lacked the depth that could get me invested in the story. And what was with that ending? I was just left hanging with that. There was no closure. It wasn't even a cliffhanger. Just a weird way to end the story. The writing was pretty straight-forward, without much pomp. And that's necessarily not a bad thing. But it was also slightly bland. And I honestly felt that there was no rhyme or reason to many of the things that happened. I felt like I was missing out parts of the story. The story had a lot of potential. I think the debut author missed a trick here.
The author did a great job of writing about a period in our history that many do not know too much about. I found myself wanting to learn more after reading this book and spent time researching online. Definitely recommend this one!
I absolutely loved this book...until it abruptly ended, leaving me wondering how her relationships evolve or end and what she decides to study in college. The ending was a complete letdown, after getting so completely invested in the characters. Perhaps there will be a sequel, where I will learn all the answers to the questions that remain. I received a free copy of Seneca Lake from NetGalley in exchanged for an honest review.
"Seneca Lake" by Emily Heebner is a nice read about Meg, a young girl living in the rural area of the Finger Lakes Region in Upstate New York during World War II. She has dreams of studying at Cornell University, but does not what she wants to do with her life or how to afford her education. She is then torn behind two men: Hank, a rich and educated young man who enlisted in the Army while Arthur was a high school drop-out, works hard all day as a farmer which also allows him from not enlisting to fight overseas. Her grandparents and friends want her to give up everything including her dream of going to Cornell to be with Hank, who comes from a well-off family. But while Hank is fighting for his country, Meg's friendship with Arthur turns into something more. Will she choose a life of luxury but without happiness, or will Meg follow her heart and choose her own path.
It took me a couple of chapters to become engaged in "Seneca Lake" by Emily Heebner but once I did, I almost couldn't put the story down. It is kind of a snapshot of one young woman's life during WWII. Meg's brother is off in battle. A recent love interest has just left after asking her to write to him. And she wants to do all she can to help the war efforts. She lives with her Grandma and Grandpa in their home about a saloon. Her sisters live across the way with Meg's mother and father. The mother has suffered since Meg was born and wasn't able to take care of her. The story doesn't specifically say it but it sounds like postpartum depression that never went away. Although she agreed to write to Hank she is suddenly nuts about the Seneca indigenous young man named Arthur who works on the farm and has dropped out of high school. But he is kind and sensitive and I really liked him a lot and was rooting for him and angry with all the stereotypes and racist behaviors he had to endure. The story goes on about the two of them getting closer and boom something bad happens, something else bad happens. Then suddenly the book is over with little to nothing resolved. We don't know how two characters adjusted to coming back from war or if one of them even comes back. We don't know if there ends up being any kind of relationship with Arthur at the end. We don't know if the bad guys in town get their any karma. We don't know anything. And the ending was so abrupt and completely unsatisfying. This is wasted potential for sure. It read like the first half of a really great novel. At only 130ish pages, the author should have developed the book, gave it a real conclusion and made the book a hundred or so pages longer. But the cover is gorgeous and the fact that the book covers a period of time that isn't written about in fiction very often are pluses.
This novel was a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Having grown up in Rochester, New York, I gravitated to the title because I was curious about Emily Heebner's historical tale set in the Finger Lakes. Meg, a high school senior, finds herself at a crossroads during the later part of World War II, when she has to determine her path forward in love and life. Arthur, a Native American who Meg has grown up with, emerges as a love interest as Meg begins to see him as more than a brother. However, given the time period, Meg also sees the prejudice of her community when interacting with Arthur. As their romance takes off, Meg is forced to make decisions that impact her future, including whether she will outgrow her hometown of Valois. What I enjoyed about this novel was that it captured the spirit of the Finger Lakes, the people that live in the area, and the rich history that is caught between the water and the hills of the area. Mentions within the story include women's suffrage; Mark Twain's summer home and the writing of two of his novels, including Huckleberry Finn; the Underground Railroad path through New York state to Canada; and the Native Americans who inhabited and loved the land long before European settlers forced them to relocate. Even though Meg and Arthur were fictional, as a reader I felt like the context of the story brought their journey to life. While the novel did not end how I expected, it concluded in a way that was satisfying and allowed the reader to imagine what comes next. It also ended with a strong message of female empowerment which I particularly appreciated.
This is a short read with a really good concept. I enjoy historical fiction set during WWII, and I liked the characters assembled here. It was interesting to have a native character and the author did a good job of showing some of the difficulties he would have living and working with non-native people during a time of war. There is a lot of beautiful imagery in this book and I enjoyed reading it. However, the book starts and ends very abruptly, is very heavy on dialogue, and the characters don’t feel as fleshed out as they could have been. Overall, a pleasant way to spend my afternoon. Thanks to the publisher for the copy I received from NetGalley.
In Seneca Lake, e follow Meg at the tail end of World War 2, who is on the precipice of dating Hank, yet her friend Arthur has caught her eye. Arthur who probably won't finish high school, who isn't serving in the army because he's needed at home, whose father was no good. This won't end well for Meg, her family thinks highly of Hank and he would be a much better match. The blurb states that Meg's grandparents urge her to give up her dream of Cornell, but I don't get the feeling that it's a dream of hers, I don't get the feeling she has any dreams outside of spending time with Arthur. I think as far as the back and forth between the two, it's sweet and I like the way Heebner has incorporated Native American folklore into Arthur's stories. I really wanted to love this book and it had good moments, but when it came to fleshing out the characters and the storyline, including the ending, it fell a bit flat. I didn't feel there was much of a storyline, there was a lot of conversation going on between Meg and Arthur, but it didn't necessarily move the story forward. The ending, while satisfying, sort of just happened, and rather quickly at that. It was a very quick read and I thoroughly enjoyed the historical details of the war and Seneca Lake that the author included.
Residents of Upstate NY will certainly appreciate this sweet, uncomplicated story of a young woman growing up, learning to love, and finding her voice in a small town on Seneca Lake in the 1940s. There’s nothing remarkable about the story - it’s been told many times - but Emily Heebner has a given it some new life with her vivid descriptions of rural life, memorable characters, and well-written dialog. Meg’s grandparents reminded me of my own older relatives, many of whom I haven’t thought of in years. Reading this was like getting a hug from my Gram. This would pair well with a lovely afternoon spent sitting on a porch alongside a lake.
As a New Yorker I was so excited for this book! I did enjoy some of the visuals the authors creates of the NY State and Seneca Lake. The story is sweet but simple. I would say it’s a good choice for New Yorkers farmiliar with some of these areas. I don’t think this would be something I would recommend on my blog though.
In SENECA LAKE, Meg is living her life at the beginning of the end of World War II. She really wants to date Hank, but her friend Arthur has caught her eye. Arthur who probably won’t finish high school, who isn’t serving in the army because he’s needed at home and is subject to lots of bullying for it. His father was no good and the bullies throw it up in his face all the time. Her family doesn’t think it will end well for Meg. They think Hank is the better choice and he would be a much better match for Meg but they don’t know who the real Hank is and neither does Meg for that matter. Holy cow! What an awesome story SENECA LAKE is. I finished reading it with tears in my eyes, a huge lump in my throat, and a big stupid smile on my face. My emotions were all over the place. What an amazing story that is going to stay with me for a long long time. I found myself cheering for Arthur and Meg and praying they could find their happily ever after. Sometimes, it just doesn’t happen but I still had hope the whole time. I usually am reading many books at one time but once I started SENECA LAKE all other books were put aside. I was praying for Meg, wondering if tragedy would bring these two together or splinter them further apart. I finished reading the very last page with a huge lump in my throat and a big smile on my face! I can not wait to read more by Ms. Heebner. The book description says that Meg’s grandparents urge her to give up her dream of Cornell, but I don’t think that it was a dream of Meg’s. I felt like all Meg wanted to do was spend time with Arthur. The way Arthur cares for Meg and protects her made my heart swoon. I love the way Emily Heebner wove in the Native American stories and heritage into Arthur’s stories. It was cute watching Meg and Arthur dance around their feelings for each other. Emily pulled me right in from the very beginning and never let me go. Even after I was finished reading, I found myself thinking of Meg and Arthur and all they went through. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.