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Letters to Loretta from the Radio Shack:…
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Letters to Loretta from the Radio Shack: Love and Adventure on a WWII…

by Laura Lynn Ashworth

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In her debut novel, Letters To Loretta From The Radio Shack, author Laura Lynn Ashworth provides the reader with a glimpse into the friendship and romantic relationship between teen sweethearts Sal and Loretta through their letter correspondence during the World War II years of 1943-1945.

Sal and Loretta's story is broken down into three parts that corresponds through the years of 1943-1945.

In January of 1943, nineteen year old Sal joins the Navy and is stationed at the US Naval Training Station in Farragut Idaho. While there, the readers follow the first part of Sal and Loretta's relationship via Sal's letters to fifteen year old Loretta, who was back at home in Chicago, Illinois. In this first part of the book, the reader follows Sal's correspondence to Loretta from January to May 1943, there aren't any of Loretta's letters to Sal included. From the one-way correspondence, the reader gets a glimpse in the War, Sal's training, the popular music and movies of that time period, and the social scene of their Chicago neighborhood.

Part two continues the correspondence between Sal and Loretta starting in July of 1944 when the readers are introduced to Loretta's letters to Sal. From her letter dated July 11, 1944, the reader finds out that there was a year and a half of silence between the two due to a misunderstanding while Sal was on home on a three day leave. During 1944, Sal is based in San Francisco and Honolulu, and then is transferred in October to the USS Signet, a minesweeper based out of Pearl Harbor that goes out to sea on missions from time to time. Sal is a radio man, who is responsible for translating Morse code messages that come into the radio shack from US ships and Radio San Francisco. Sal and Loretta continue to correspond regularly to each other, but sometimes the arrival of their letters is delayed. The letters contents are typical of teens / young adults, where they tease each other, request recent pictures of each other, and swap information about their daily lives, in addition to talking about the popular music and movies of that time period (this continues in every letter).

Part three of the book consists of Sal's time on the USS Signet in 1945, the crew conducts minesweeping practices and maneuvers around the Hawaiian island region until they are deployed to the Pacific war theater of Japan and surrounding islands in that region. From February through December, the USS Signet minesweeps the region and provides support during the battle of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. During these months, the correspondence between Sal and Loretta are delayed to the hit-n-miss receiving of the letters while he at sea in the combat zone. The book concludes with the USS Signet departing the Pacific region homeward bound on December 11, 1945. The ship and its crew has earned 4 battle stars for meritorious participation in battle. The reader is left with a cliffhanger ending as the only communication between Sal and Loretta is a western union message from Sal to Loretta dated November 30, 1945, stating that he will be home soon. This abrupt ending leaves the reader wondering if Sal went home on leave after the ship docked in Pearl Harbor, and if he and Loretta ever hooked up.

Letters To Loretta From The Radio Shack is an interesting non fictional historical romantic account between two young people during the World War II time period. I have to admit that I did not like the letters only style of the book, I would have preferred to read about Sal and Loretta's story with a balance between the backstory of their lives and friendship in Chicago interwoven with the blossoming romantic relationship via the letter correspondence. I found myself getting bored while reading their letters, their teenage / young adult ramblings tended to make me roll my eyes quite a bit. However I did find it fascinating following the USS Signet and Sal's deployment in the Pacific theater during 1945, the author does a fine job of interspersing historical war accounts from the USS Signet's movements during that time period.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Goddess Fish Promotions.

http://jerseygirlbookreviews.blogspot.com/2015/05/letters-to-loretta-from-radio-... ( )
  JerseyGirlBookReview | May 17, 2015 |
In 1943, Sal was nineteen and in the Navy in the midst of WWII. Loretta was fifteen at home in ‘Shy’ can (Chicago). As the letters begin, he is located at the US Naval Training Station in Farragut, Idaho. As time goes on, Sal is relocated onboard the USS Signet where he is a radio man translating Morse code messages that are received from US ships and Radio San Francisco. This was a time when many letters were written and exchanged between family and loved ones, each one taking several days to reach its intended audience. Each Part in the book is a different year: Part I was 1943; Part II was 1944; and Part III was 1945. Other than letters, the novel tells us of the USS Signet’s movements.

I enjoyed seeing some of the slang of the day. In one of Sal’s letters from Idaho, he says, “Boy, I wish the babes out here could swing their chases like some of the ‘hep-cats’ in ‘Shy’ can.” I’m thinking some of the letters of the period must be missing. For Part I (1943), we only see Sal’s letters to Loretta and none of her correspondence back to him. For historical purposes, I think these letters are precious. As per the Author’s Notes, “… she ran across “the letters” and instantly knew of their rarity, freshness, and historical significance.”

The book claims it is “A True World War II Teenage Love Story”, but I didn’t get that feeling of true love for the most part. They were on and off as far as their relationship was concerned. They’d sign their letters with love, but she would speak of going out with a Marine and he would talk about the girls he’d meet or hoped to meet when he was on leave. The ‘love’, if it was there, was sporadic at best. I felt that the letters could have been used as a tool to create a story that would breathe life into these characters. Otherwise, the characters, even though they are real people, fell a little flat. Rating: 3 out of 5. ( )
  FictionZeal | May 11, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 099095000X, Paperback)

Sal is 19, smart, handsome, Italian and ready to enlist in the Navy in the midst of WWII. Loretta is 15, introverted and lovely, living at home with her widowed father and older sister, Delores. Both from the same Chicago neighborhood, Sal and Loretta’s interest in each other is just budding when he gets a gig in the communications office on a minesweeper in the Pacific, which is destined for two dangerous operations, D-Day and the Battle of Okinawa. What are two teens on the verge of love going to do? See for yourself when you read their uncensored, real-time letters in Letters to Loretta from the Radio Shack.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 12 Jul 2015 16:10:27 -0400)

Read the rare and recently discovered real time letters between Sal, age 19, and Loretta, age 15, during the final terrifying three years of World War II, 1943-1945. Both from the Douglas Park neighborhood in Chicago, the two adolescents discuss with humor and candor, the Navy, war, politics, hit music, life back home and their relationship. Sal nicknamed Slabby for his movie star good looks, deciphers code out of the Navy's radio shack on a minesweeper in the Pacific. Loretta monikered Duchess for her aloofness, lives with aunts and her widowed father, while holding day jobs and enjoying an active social life with friends. Letters to Loretta from the Radio Shack lets you experience World War II, both in battle and on the home front, through the eyes of adolescents in a way that Hollywood has never portrayed.… (more)

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