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The First Christmas of the War

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3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  336 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
‘ Twas the week of Christmas,
Nineteen forty-one;
The season’s joy overshadowed
by the war just begun.

The Great Depression years finally behind them, the entire Coleman family of Pittsburgh has been looking forward to this Christmas for almost the entire year. For the first time in more than a decade, Gerald and Irene Coleman have tucked away enough extra money to make up for
...more
ebook, 0 pages
Published June 27th 2015 by Smashwords Edition (first published June 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

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Susan
Feb 10, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For all of my friends who are World War II fans, this is a great new book. I got it from bookBubs.com. The setting is Pittsburgh, a few weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Coleman family is a middle-class, working class family from the area comprised of five members. The story moves nicely and explores what was going on with each individual person. There is one son who is draft age, another who will soon be. There are other teenagers in the family and a small child. Everyone is trying t ...more
Erica
Dec 30, 2011 Erica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book enough to know I'll be reading the next one! I found myself transported to that time and feeling what the family felt. The characters aren't romanticized - they are very human - no one is perfect and they are all trying to do their best with what they are given.

The book shows what the Coleman family felt and went through before and during Christmas 1941, thus what most U.S. families were feeling after December 7th, 1941.

If you enjoy being transported to different times, read
...more
Deb
Jan 15, 2012 Deb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having won a copy as a First Read giveaway through Goodreads, I was THRILLED to have been selected to receive the book. With my very large family, I had several uncles who were involved in the conflicts of WWII (my father being only 4 years old in 1941) including one who was a Marine at Iwo Jima.

The book invites you into the home and lives of the Coleman family, and with the way it's written it feels like you're right there with them! The family members become 'real', and you find yourself want
...more
Peggy
Dec 18, 2011 Peggy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a nice little story of a special time in American history. You follow the Colman family through the first Christmas season after World War II breaks out. All the rationing, shortages, sons going to war, financial difficulties, and still people from this era call it the good old days. America was a different place in the Colman's world. One I wish I could've lived in. This is set in Pittsburgh PA. and I live just north of there and it was fun reading about places I have seen and know abou ...more
Betsy
Dec 29, 2011 Betsy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a surprising book. I expected 1940's memories but it was so much more. Mr. Simon has an insight into the feelings, hopes and disappointments of each of the characters. He depicted teenage/young adult emotions so well, it took me right back to my own. And how did he know the mother's lost dreams for her life so well?
I enjoyed this book and read it in one sitting.
Marcy
Dec 30, 2011 Marcy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
this was a good book for the holidays. i liked the style of writing. my mother is now reading this book. i plan to share it with at least 2 other friends. great one for a book club. lots of topics for discussion.
Jane Buchbauer
Jul 23, 2013 Jane Buchbauer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting work of historical fiction spotlighting a family in Pittsburgh personally in the crosshairs of WWII. An easy read it takes in a concise time period that holds fascinating details about the lives of the people of the time.
Matt
Dec 23, 2011 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaway-books
Not expecting a whole lot, I started reading and couldn't stop. Powerful images of Christmas time in a 1940's city; terrific characters; almost A Christmas Story without the humor at times. I can't wait for the author's next book in this series.
Susan
Sep 03, 2012 Susan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who like light, magazine-like, serial stories.
In short: this falls well short of standing on its own as a novel, but does serve as the opening of a multi part story of a family in war time.

I enjoyed the setting both in time and place in this novel set in the home of a cobbler during the first month of World War II. The characters come off as authentic and the interaction between parents and children are believable and well handled; their conversations and conflicts inserted into the story line in moderation and with good timing. The relatio
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Julie
This book takes place over the week of Christmas in 1941. After struggling through years of the Depression Gerald and Irene Coleman finally have enough money saved up to give their children a better Christmas experience. Then comes Pearl Harbor and the knowledge that life is about to change radically. Jonathan at 19 years is working full time, trying to decide whether to enlist or wait to be drafted, and preparing to propose to his girl friend. Joseph is only 17, but more than prepared to drop o ...more
Elaine
It was just before Christmas in the early 1940's with much talk of the war. Mom - Irene was deeply concerned for her boys as one was old enough to be drafted with two more sons not far behind. Young men often endeavored to get their girlfriends to marry them or other less lofty proposals.

Jonathan, Irene and Gerald's eldest at 19 is old enough to be drafted and is debating whether to ask his girl to marry him. He's not thrilled about having to go into the armed forces.

Joseph at 17 is excited and
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Deb
Feb 27, 2012 Deb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having won a copy as a First Read giveaway through Goodreads, I was THRILLED to have been selected to receive the book. With my very large family, I had several uncles who were involved in the conflicts of WWII (my father being only 4 years old in 1941) including one who was a Marine at Iwo Jima.

The book invites you into the home and lives of the Coleman family, and with the way it's written it feels like you're right there with them! The family members become 'real', and you find yourself want
...more
Jeff
Jan 11, 2013 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The First Christmas of the War is the 1st book in a planned 4 part series based on the live of the Coleman family. This first book is set in the week before Christmas 1941, just shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into World War II. It is a simple story of what I imagine was a typical family at a crucial part of US history. Gerald and Irene Coleman are the parents of 5 children and live in Pittsburgh. Gerald is a shoemaker and Irene is a homemaker. The fi ...more
Mary Anne
This was the story of the Coleman family of Pittsburgh during the Christmas season right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The story is simply told, but paints a good picture of how war affected families in that time period. In today's atmosphere of everyone pretty much looking out for themselves first, it is eye opening to see how people were willing to sacrifice for the sake of the county. In this book, Irene Coleman was trying to plan a perfect Christmas before her two oldest boys would go o ...more
Andie
Apr 02, 2013 Andie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of a working class Polish-American family right after Pearl Harbor in 1941. The Coleman family is still getting over the shock of the attack on our naval base in Hawaii and also anticipating with some trepidation the enlistment and/or drafting of their two eldest sons into the armed forces. They are also trying to cope with their teenage daughter & her dreams of wartime romance. Both parents are hard working and have few expectations out of the ordinary. Mrs. Coleman, once ...more
Anthony
"The First Christmas of the War" by Alan Simon is a well written story with very good character development. It is a small novel, about times past, where life seemed simpler but yet the same family struggles that we see today were present then. It's a family story that takes place in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and the family is just coming out of the Great Depression when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurs. The Coleman family is planning for a hopefully better Christmas when the disruption of this h ...more
Lavon
Nov 06, 2015 Lavon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would give this another 1/2 star. A quick read that gives a good insight to your average American family in 1941, just after Pearl Harbor and what the family thinks will be their last Christmas together for a while, depending on how long the war will last. The family has five children, one old enough to enlist, one almost old enough and three younger siblings. Mom and Dad try to make this a special Christmas as America has recovered from the Depression but now the war is threatening to disrupt ...more
Cheryl (Collier)
This story was very well written with good character development and description of time and place. I got some sense of the evolving tension of war having just been declared while the family was just beginning to feel relief from the hardships of the Depression. From the book's description I expected more emphasis on the family's Christmastime and the mother's desire to make it extra special in light of the new war. Although there were some references to this I felt more time was spent on the pr ...more
Lacey Jordan
Jan 06, 2012 Lacey Jordan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This book for me was a First reader win. It is a fun nostalgic look at one families first Christmas of World War II. The Coleman family knew that life would never be the same for them again, but it was the hope of one final Christmas all together that spurred on extra special planning and time.

Even though this book was set in the 40's, there is still such a timeless feel of teenage angst, growing up in a new and different world, and parents trying to navigate the waters with their growing child
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Mary
Jul 29, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes place in December, 1941 hence the name. The book follows the Coleman Family who have 5 Children, two teenage boys old enough to go to war. One almost old enough to go, one teenage girl and one 6 year old child.

The father in the story Gerald has been in the Great War WWI but never saw fighting action. He is very upset that his sons will be either drafted or will sign up on their own.

Their mother, Irene, wants this Christmas to be one of the best they have had since not having much
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Bethany Mead
Mar 08, 2015 Bethany Mead rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't think this book is a super-star from a literary point of view, but I did enjoy it a lot. Being from the Pittsburgh area, I was able to recall many of the geographical locations and the points of interest that were mentioned in the book. I think whenever you read a book where you can relate in that manner, it makes it all the more special.

The story takes place in the few days before and on Christmas in 1941. Pearl Harbor had just been bombed and the United States had entered the war. We
...more
Cheryl
Jul 27, 2013 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Warm, heart-touching story of a Pittsburg, PA family dealing with the aftermath of a country that just survived a Depression and the subsequent beginning of WWII and its affects on a simple household. Immigrants from Poland, this shoe shop owner and cobbler feels he must enter the community of workers in the steel mills as his two oldest sons prepare for what they feel will be the "adventure" of war and fighting the Nazi's and Japanese. Pride, determination and a sense of humor help the family e ...more
Barbara
Nov 04, 2013 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. This is the first book in a series of 4 that follows the Coleman family through WW II. I read some of the reviews and some downgraded the book because it wasn't "lighthearted" enough. Really!? It takes place right after the US is attacked at Pearl Harbor. Times were very uncertain and many families worried about sons overseas and sons that were about to be drafted. People were trying to make the best of a less than great situation and I think this book captures that moo ...more
Tocci
Jan 08, 2015 Tocci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Sweet Family Story

One Christmas, long ago, I received a book about The Five Peppers and How They Grew. This book seemed an updated version of this young people's story, but of an American family during a Christmas time at a particular historical time in America - WW2. It is well written and interesting to read how families may have behaved before during my Mom's time. If some more had been resolved, or if there were greater depth to the story, I could give it 5 stars.
Karen Hurley
Sep 30, 2015 Karen Hurley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book gave me a good insight into the climate of our country after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and also gave me some idea of how my parents felt back then. Little details, like the main characters casually smoking Pall Malls and Lucky Strikes were true to my parents generation. I never realized how genuinely afraid of being attacked people were then.
I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.. It was an easy read. The characters are well drawn and keep the story moving.
Diane
Dec 16, 2013 Diane rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I did not care for the sexual content of this book. The story takes place over five days in December, the last Christmas before WW2. The parents are not sure if the oldest son will be in the service by the next Christmas and the second son soon after that. Everyone in the family is going through their own worries about the war and the oldest son and daughter are having some difficulties dealing with teenage love interests.
Deb Cornell
Sep 17, 2013 Deb Cornell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Irene and Gerald Coleman, first generation immigrants, are determined to celebrate the holidays traditionally in spite of the inevitable changes on the horizon wrought by the attack on Pearl Harbor just weeks earlier. With five children, ranging in age from nineteen to six, we are treated to a range of incidents, dilemmas and decisions illustrative of the times. Author, Alan Simon, displays a warm affection for both family life and the era. Am now reading his sequel, Thanksgiving 1942.
Denese
Jan 20, 2012 Denese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. Although the timeline was before my time, Alan Simon presented the characters and their struggles in such a great format that I was easily able to imagine myself there. It was a great story, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. In the interests of full disclosure, I received a copy of this book through Goodreads for the purpose of review. That said, I would highly recommend this book. The only issue I had with it was my inability to put it down!
Linda T
Enjoyed the storyline and the characters ; interesting look at how life was changing in everyday life after America was plunged into war. But it was not the best written book i have ever read. Editor did not do a very good job. I think it is the first of a trilogy. Not sure if read the others or not.
Mary Mathews
Jan 05, 2013 Mary Mathews rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a nice little read. If you have ever wanted to know what life was like for your parents or grandparents in December 1941, read this. This is a real slice of life of a working-class family which includes three boys and two girls, some dreading the approaching war, some looking forward to it, all wanting to have one normal Christmas before it begins.
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From USA TODAY bestselling author Alan Simon: just published: THE FIRST CHRISTMAS AFTER THE WAR...the sequel to THANKSGIVING, 1942 and the 3rd title in that series. More to follow!

Also available: the USA TODAY bestseller GETTYSBURG, 1913: THE COMPLETE NOVEL OF THE GREAT REUNION...a very unique story (originally written as a 3-part serialized novel) set against the backdrop of the real-life, all-bu
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