Love and Kisses, Charlie | Critical Book Review
Love and Kisses, Charlie by Charles L. Fletcher provides a quiet and thoughtful exploration into the world of a young soldier, Charlie, who turned to letter-writing as a means of reassurance and survival during World War II. Tucker Lieberman delves into the nuances of this indie biography, shedding light on the personal and historical aspects that make it noteworthy.
An Optimistic Facade Amidst War
Charlie Fletcher’s letters, meticulously crafted and consistently cheerful, offer readers a present-tense experience of his World War II U.S. Army service. At the tender age of 19, having completed his bachelor’s degree at NYU, Charlie embarked on a journey to confront Hitler, leaving behind a trail of letters that unveil the truth behind his optimistic facade.
Everyday Chronicles of a Young Soldier
The compilation, Love and Kisses, Charlie: WWII Letters from a Jewish-American Serviceman, meticulously curated by Joshua Gerstein, unfolds a vivid tapestry of Charlie’s life through his letters to his parents. From mundane details about food and daily activities to casual dates and requests for care packages, Charlie’s writing encapsulates the essence of his wartime experience.
Intimacy in the Midst of War
While Charlie touches on intense emotions about his comrades and the broader political landscape, he predominantly sticks to the mundane, offering a lively inventory of day-to-day activities. The intimacy lies in his repetitive family jokes and the reassurance he provides to his parents, creating a poignant narrative that blends reality with a sense of youthful innocence.
Gerstein’s careful editorial work, accompanied by historical context and photographs, allows readers to connect Charlie’s personal experiences with the geopolitical landscape of the time. The book becomes a testament to the enduring strength of family bonds, as evidenced by the preservation and publication of over 600 letters spanning three-quarters of a century.
The Dual Realities of War
Charlie’s letters, though providing insight into his daily life, raise questions about the omission of the harsh realities of war. The absence of explicit mentions of pain and trauma creates a dual sense of reality and unreality, portraying Charlie’s war story as both a reflection of youth’s innocence and a deliberate choice to keep certain aspects private.
Hurdles for Casual Readers, Historical Gem for Scholars
With a substantial length of 634 pages, Love and Kisses, Charlie may pose a challenge for casual readers. However, historians will undoubtedly appreciate the comprehensive collection of letters that paints a vivid picture of Charlie’s identity as an American and a Jew. The book stands as an insightful and complete portrayal of a soldier’s wartime experience.
A Chronological Journey Through Absence
Reading the letters in chronological order reveals the prolonged absence that Charlie felt during his wartime service. This aspect becomes an integral part of understanding what it meant for a young man to go off to war. Love and Kisses, Charlie emerges as a valuable WWII biography-in-letters, providing readers with a unique glimpse into the diversion of mind that one soldier employed to reassure his family and survive the tumultuous times.
|Nonfiction / History / WWII
Love and Kisses, Charlie by Charles L. Fletcher provides a quiet and thoughtful exploration into the world of a young soldier, Charlie, who turned to letter-writing as a means of reassurance and survival during World War II. Tucker Lieberman delves into the nuances of this indie biography, shedding light on the personal and historical aspects…