Virtual South Bound Series: Susan Meissner

Susan Meissner.jpeg

Thursday, May 7, 2020

7:00 pm

Online through Facebook Live

USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction, Susan Meissner is a former managing editor of a weekly newspaper and an award-winning columnist. She is the award-winning author of A Fall of Marigolds, Secrets of a Charmed Life, Stars over Sunset Boulevard, A Bridge Across the Ocean, and As Bright as Heaven, among other novels. She has more than half a million books in print in fifteen languages. Her latest novel, The Last Year of the War, was named in Real Simple magazine's list of best books for 2019.

“Vivid historical detail and elegant prose bolster this rewarding story of profound friendship, family, fear, and the pain that arose for American-born children of immigrant parents.” ―Publishers Weekly

About the book: The Last Year of the War

The Last Year of the War is told from the perspective of Elise Sontag, a 14-year-old girl born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. When Elise’s German-born father is suspected of being a Nazi sympathizer, Elise and her family are shipped off to an internment camp in Crystal City, Texas.

Despite facing physical and emotional hardship in the camp, Elise finds refuge and friendship in fellow detainee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles. The two girls form an unbreakable bond forged by their shared experience. But when the Sontag family is abruptly deported to Germany as part of the U.S. government’s little-known repatriation program, Elise is devastated by her separation from Mariko. Elise and her family find themselves living out the last year of the war in a country under siege, heading toward defeat, and hostile to anyone with ties to America. For Elise, the one sustaining belief is the hope that she will one day see her friend again. Decades later, battling Alzheimer’s, Elise is determined to reunite with Mariko before her disease robs her of her beloved friend.

Susan Meissner shows an unerring talent for finding pivotal moments in history that not only make for emotional, page-turning stories but also deepen our understanding of the world we live in now. Based on extensive research and interviews with former Crystal City internees, The Last Year of the War resonates with timeliness as we continue to debate what it means to be an American.

About the book: As Bright as Heaven

In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters a chance at a better life. But just months later, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America and the streets of Philly, and they find their world looks nothing like the one they’d hoped for.


Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without–and what they are willing to do about it. As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.