The Italian Prisoner by Elisa Speranza
The Italian Prisoner is an engrossing tale of wartime love, family secrets, and a young woman’s struggle to chart her own course at an inflection point in American history. This debut work of historical fiction was inspired by a true but little-known story involving Italian prisoners of war on the New Orleans home front during World War II. Rose lives with her Sicilian immigrant parents and helps in the family grocery store as the war rages overseas. Behind her parents’ backs, Rose lands a job at the shipyard, where she feels free and important for the first time in her life. When the parish priest organizes a goodwill mission to visit Italian prisoners of war at a nearby military base, Rose falls for Sal, a handsome and intelligent POW. Italy has switched sides in the war, so the POWs are allowed out to socialize, giving Rose and Sal a chance to grow closer. When Rose gets a promotion at work, she must make an agonizing choice: follow a traditional path or keep working after the war and live on her own terms.