As Long As I Have You
Deseret Book .
Suggested retail price: $20.95 (US)
As World War II finally concludes, life back in the Sugar House area of Utah is supposed to become a little more normal for the Thomas family. But in Dean Hughes’ fifth and final Children of the Promise book, As Long as I Have You, the family finds that just because Hitler has been stopped, that doesn’t mean their problems will as well.
Al Thomas is ready to see his dream of a vast business enterprise run by his children come true, only to find that his sons may have different plans. Alex is finally allowed to return home from the war only to find that his two-year-old son Gene does not know him. Wally is getting stronger every day after his experience in a Japanese POW camp, but finds that adjusting to civilian life isn’t as easy as he thought it would be. The girls are all happy to have their brothers home, but are having a hard time dealing with growing up and the pains that come from being in love.
As a whole, the Children of the Promise series provides a wonderful insiders view of what life was like for a typical LDS family during and after World War II. Since the book takes place after the war has ended, As Long As I Have You, is definitely the least action-packed of the five books, but Hughes is able to explore many problems that LDS families certainly faced post World War II.
All of Hughes’ characters in the series have a different voice, and feel to them. The book is a great read for both genders, because Hughes is able to get inside the head of both his male and female characters and divulges critical information about both sexes.
While dealing with the growing pains that accompany the Thomas children, Hughes is also able to tackle the moral dilemmas that were a part of the war. Moving to the United States, from Germany, Alex’s in-laws, the Stoltz’s, are finding that adjusting to life in the United States is very challenging. Despite the many challenges, the Stoltz’s are receiving better treatment from the Americans than they had planned. While in Germany they were able to subtly oppose Hitler, and are finally realizing the how their actions back home affected their reception in the United States.
In a conversation with Wally’s POW friend Don, Heinrich Stoltz finds out the overall feeling of Americans toward his family. Don said: “I respect you for fighting against him (Hitler). It would have been easy to go along with Hitler and just protect yourselves. But you put your lives on the line. That took a lot of courage. That’s the trouble in this world: too many good people stand back and let the bad people run the show.” (p.315)
Dean Hughes was born in Ogden, Utah in 1943, and was raised in very humble circumstances. He studied English at Weber State University, receiving a Masters in creative writing and a PhD in literature from the University of Washington. Before he became a full-time writer, he taught English at Central Missouri State University for 8 years. Hughes has also taught creative writing at Brigham Young University. Hughes was 35 when his first book was published. Much of his writing is targeted to children and young adults, his work in the Children of the Promise books gave him the reputation of being an author who meticulously researched his books. He has written and published over ninety books. He is one of the writers largely credited with the rapidly increasing quality of Mormon literature in recent years. In March 2008, Hughes received a Lifetime Achievement award at the inaugural Whitney Awards.
The book As Long As I Have You is a perfect ending to the Children of the Promise series and is a must-read for those who are interested in World War II. Through his detailed research, Dean Hughes is able to show his readers what growing up in the 1940’s was like for both the young and the old.