Deana's Reviews > Breaking the Code: A Father's Secret, a Daughter's Journey, and the Question That Changed Everything

Breaking the Code by Karen Fisher-Alaniz
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's review
Dec 26, 11

bookshelves: read-library, wwii, 2011, 4-5stars
Recommended for: Those interested in untold stories from WWII
Read from December 14 to 15, 2011, read count: 1

I saw this book on the GR First Reads giveways and was instantly intrigued and signed up for it. And then the next day, I was at the library, and it was sitting there prominently displayed. So I got it, and I'm glad I did. I would still love to own a copy of this book!

It's a much easier read than I was expecting, and still really interesting as the story progresses. And it's a TRUE story, which makes it all that more interesting!

The author, Karen, tells the story of how she learned about her father's contributions during World War II. Growing up, she had known he was in the war, but didn't know much about what he did and was often too busy with her own life to really care to listen. As her father ages, he begins having night terrors and showing signs of PTSD, and she begins to question what may have happened to him during the war. To answer her questions, rather than talk to her about it (which he is very uncomfortable doing at first), he gives her a big stack of letters that he had written to his mother while he was in the service.

That's the best part of this book -- reading the letters first-hand and seeing the photographs he sent along with them. And it's especially interesting when we learn more about his story and see which parts of it he wrote about in his letters, and which parts he never mentions at all. It was also interesting to see how the military guys were able to turn a war situation into something tolerable with their little games, friendships and outings.

I also learned a lot about how the war affected normal people at the time. Tales of rationing, of women drawing seams on their legs with eyeliner because the panty hose that were "in style" were extremely difficult to find, of how the mail worked, of how people kept themselves busy until their sons, brothers and fathers came home...

Overall, it was a quick and informative read. It's not the best written stuff, but then when he was writing the letters he wasn't intending them for a public audience. And Karen isn't really an author -- she's just a daughter who wanted to get to know her father better and was really amazed by what she learned. I'm glad they decided to share this story with the world.
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12/14/2011 page 125
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