REVIEW: For the Love of Laura Beth by Aubrey Wynne
The Korean War destroyed their plans, but the battle at home may shatter their hearts…
Laura Beth Walters fell in love with Joe McCall when she was six years old. Now she counts the days until Joey graduates from college so they can marry and begin their life together. But the Korean War rips their neatly laid plans to shreds. Instead of a college fraternity, Joey joins a platoon. Laura Beth trades a traditional wedding for a quick trip to the courthouse.
The couple endures the hardship of separation, but the true battle begins when Joey returns home. Their marriage is tested almost beyond endurance as Laura struggles to accept the tragedy thrown in their path. Joey watches as the woman who has kept him anchored slowly crumbles. With the same steadfastness his wife has always shown him, he faces the invisible enemy with the heart of a soldier. He will fight anyone or anything…for the love of Laura Beth.
Spoiler (Trigger Warning): Show
Dear Ms. Wynne,
From the blurb I knew this book would be a challenge to read both because of whatever the content might be but also because it’s a novella. It’s hard to write one that includes a lot of events and do them justice in a short space. This one does it.
Laura Beth has loved Joey for years but as her mother says, “boys are a bit slower in the cleverness department.” But there’s nothing like a potential rival to get a guy to take a second look at a young woman he’s thought of as the kid down the street. Pretty soon Joey can’t imagine why it took him so long to notice her.
It’s college first though and then they’ll get married. Three years later, with his mother’s death from cancer and his senior year college tuition eaten by the medical bills, Joey has no choice but to take a semester off and work in his father’s garage. He and Laura Beth will have to put off the wedding for another year, he thinks. Until he gets his draft notice and the two decide to marry before he ships out to Korea.
Writing daily and wishing their love to each other each night, Joey is focused on hanging on and keeping his head down so as to make it home. The happy news Laura Beth sends him just adds to his determination. When he finally does arrive, life is perfect – except for the nightmares that wake him. But soon he and his beloved Laura Beth are dealing with another nightmare. Will they and their love survive?
This novella broke my heart … and then put it back together. The period detail of the late 1940s/early 1950s is just enough, but not too much, to put me in a different time and place. Joey’s dad had enlisted in WWII so Joey has no illusions about being a hero or covering himself in glory. His thoughts of going to war are grimmer, much more realistic and probably those that most men secretly grapple with.
Laura Beth is the strong one. From helping Joey’s family cope with the death of his mother to standing up for what she knows is the right thing for her, she’s a rock. So to see her begin to crumble under the weight of what happens is almost as shocking to the reader as it is to her family. Yet, her reasons, emotions and fears are those that mothers facing terrible losses must also fight with and overcome.
As her father-in-law tells her, his wife completed him and Laura Beth and Joey complete each other. Their love is sweet, layered and deep. The epilogue shows that they’ll make it and I’ve no doubt had it been set 50 years after the main story, I’d still believe these two are deeply in love. This one made me cry but ultimately also made me smile. A