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Thursday, July 13, 2006

As Always Jack: A Wartime Love Story by Emma Sweeney

At the tail end of WWII, a young navy pilot named Jack Sweeney fell crazy in love with a California girl named Beebe -just before he was shipped off to the Pacific with his squadron. From stations around the Pacific, he wooed her with letters full of teasing charm, hokey jokes, and sincere affection. When Jack returned to the States and asked her to marry him, Beebe said yes.Emma Sweeney never knew her father, Jack. He died in a plane crash just months before she was born, and her mother remarried soon after. It was only years later, after her mother's death, that Emma found a package of letters tied in a pink ribbon. In those touching, warm, and funny letters, she met her father for the first time. AS ALWAYS, JACK is both a real life love story and a daughter's account of her search for the father she never knew. For Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day-this book is an instant classic.

This book was a birthday gift from my mother in law last year. I finished it in a day the first time I read it. The book is divided into 3 parts.

Part 1

The author, Emma, talks about how she never knew her dad, Jack. He was in the navy. His plane went missing around the Bermuda triangle area. So she always believed his plane went missing there and he's somewhere on some enchanted island with others who have gone missing in the triangle. She always wondered what kind of man he was and if he knew her mom was pregnant with her before he died. Her mom never liked to really talk about Jack too much. It hurt too much. After her mom's funeral, Emma found a bundle of letters. They were from Jack. It was a year before she read them.

Part 2

Jack's letters. He was such a goofy, teasing, sweet guy. He wrote Beebe (Emma's mom) almost everyday. From what I gathered from his letters, they met at dance and spent the next two weeks with other. He knew she was the one. So when he was shipped out, he asked her to tie up loose ends on his behalf so he would have an excuse to correspond with her. During the course of the letters, we see the love blossoming. And we also hear of what he's been up to. It's not all just mushy love letters. We hear how he misses Beebe in his letters, but he goes on telling her
about his family, what he's up, general stuff like that.

He also writes how loves hearing from Beebe and to send picture of herself. It was the letters and the pictures that kept his spirits up. Made him look forward to something. I have a friend overseas, and he's often thanked me for emailing every day. Can you imagine without email and
just waiting for snail mail to arrive?

When he writes about coming home, you get excited along with him. Waiting for them to meet. The last letter leaves you hanging. He's writing to Beebe he's packing up and he can't wait to see her. You turn the page and you see.... well you have to read the book to find out.

Part 3.

Emma talks about reading the letters and finally knowing who her father was. She's given a letter her mom wrote to her Jack's mom. Which says Jack did know about Beebe was pregnant with Emma. He did know about her. Which was a comforting feeling. There is also one final letter Jack wrote before his fatal flight in which, you have a sense he knew something might happen. She also learns the truth about Jack's death.

I love, LOVE this book you guys. It's just tender and sweet. I can't say enough good things about it. It's a fast read. Once you get into the letters, you'll find yourself wanting to know more.

The only thing I would change: that Beebe would've saved the letters she wrote to Jack. Emma knew her father would've saved the letters, but that her mom would've thrown them away after his death. (the letters Beebe wrote to Jack)

Favorite quote:
Darling, you've said several times that this was the first time you've felt that you were in love. that's the most wonderful thing that's ever been told to me, and all I hope is that I'm worthy of it.

Grade A+

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