Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
When I began reading John Copenhaver’s DODGING AND BURNING, his language and the way he started the story to me were reminiscent of To Kill A Mockingbird. And like To Kill A Mockingbird this story is about love, family, friendships, and coming of age.
Copenhaver’s writing is beautiful, descriptive and lush, and like the cicadas you hear in the hot summer months, his words slowly lull and hypnotise you. He introduces you to two vastly different characters, Bunny and Ceola, who tells their story from their point of view. These are a couple of my favorite passages that encapsulated who Bunny and Ceola are:
He (Jay Greenwood) smiled and said, “ You’re beautiful. You shouldn’t need validation from me or the camera. “
“Pretty girls need the most validation,” I (Bunny) said. “They’ve been told they’re pretty so often, it has lost its meaning.”
I (Ceola) knew what she (Bunny) was thinking- Ceola is such a tomboy Look at those dirty cheeks. That grass-stained sailor’s middy. That sloppy ponytail. I wasn’t a bit interested being girly, but all the same, she made me feel dumpy.
Through these two girls, we are drawn into their world, seeing how their lives became intertwined and changed because of the two boys in their life, Jay and Robbie, World War II, a murder mystery, and the tragic secrets hidden. Copenhaver also touches on the trauma soldiers faced during and after the war, and the difficulties homosexuals faced in that era. My favorite chapters were told by Ceola, and how she tried to reconnect with her brother Robbie who dies in action during the war, it was heart rendering.
I enjoyed reading DODGING AND BURNING although it was heartbreaking to read at times. The ending was unexpected, tragic, and bittersweet with a twist I did not see coming. I have to applaud Copenhaver on his storytelling skills.