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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Yesterday's Tomorrow by Catherine West (Book Review)

In association with Litfuse Publicity, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Yesterday's Tomorrow by author Catherine West!

Book Review

Yesterday's Tomorrow by Catherine West
Publisher: OakTara
Publication Date: March 15, 2011
Format: Paperback - 288 pages / Kindle - 665 KB / Nook - 552 KB
ISBN: 160290278X
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction / Romance

BUY THE BOOK: Yesterday's Tomorrow

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 Litfuse Publicity.

Book Description:

She's after the story that might get her the Pulitzer.

He's determined to keep his secrets to himself.

Vietnam, 1967.

Independent, career-driven journalist Kristin Taylor wants two things: to honor her father's memory by becoming an award-winning overseas correspondent and to keep tabs on her only brother, Teddy, who signed up for the war against their mother's wishes. Brilliant photographer Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, exudes mystery. Kristin is convinced he's hiding something.

Willing to risk it all for what they believe in, Kristin and Luke engage in their own tumultuous battle until, in an unexpected twist, they're forced to work together. Ambushed by love, they must decide whether or not to set aside their own private agendas for the hope of tomorrow that has captured their hearts.

A poignant love story set amidst the tumultuous Vietnam War.

Book Excerpt:


February 1954

Didn’t they know they were shouting so loud the neighbors could hear?

Kristin Taylor huddled in bed, drew her knees to her chest and clapped her hands over her ears. Through the thin wall she heard Daddy’s voice rise and Mom burst into tears. It was past ten o’clock. She was supposed to be asleep, but their heated argument woke her. Kristin gritted her teeth and began to hum her favorite song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

A moment of peace settled over the brownstone apartment. Kristin smiled and wiped her eyes. It worked every time, even if she couldn’t hit the high notes.

Dad started yelling again. She groaned, pulled the covers over her head and squeezed her eyes shut. They were going to be a while.

A moment later she sat up and turned on her bedside table lamp. Something smashed against the other side of her wall and shattered. More yells. She narrowed her eyes. No way to sleep with this racket going on. 

She hopped off her bed and pushed her arms through the sleeves of her thick flannel robe. Cold air chased her as she quick-stepped it across the faded rug to her dresser. She ran her fingers along the stack of books squashed between two hand-carved wooden bookends. The frayed bindings of Heid, Jane Eyre, Great Expectations and Pride and Prejudice and the Bible she’d received at her confirmation, shared space with all the Agatha Christie novels Kristin could get her hands on. Every once in a while Mom came in to clean, found them, and threatened to throw them out, but Daddy wouldn’t let her.

“The child has an inquisitive mind, Val. We should encourage that.”

“And you do a fine job,” Mom retaliated. “She’s only twelve years old! She should be reading something more…genteel…what’s wrong with The Brontë sisters?”

Kristin remembered the Ian Fleming book hidden under her bed and grinned. Dad snuck it in to her room a couple of nights ago. She’d start it now. Hopefully she could finish the whole story before Mom got her hands on it.

Her eyes landed on the silver framed black-and-white image of Daddy getting his Pulitzer two years ago. They said he was probably the youngest journalist to ever receive the award. She should be proud. She was. Mom didn’t seem so happy about it. Everyone wanted Daddy to go all over the world now.

As their shouts died down again, she heard the distinct sound of drawers being pulled open and slammed shut. So, he was leaving. Her stomach tightened but she ignored disappointment and tried to imagine her father’s exciting world beyond their brownstone apartment. As she waited to see if they’d start up again, a faint cry reached her ears.


Kristin crept down the hall to her brother’s room. The lamp on the dresser shed a soft glow over Teddy’s round face. He sat up in his bed, fists curled into balls held against his chest. His eyes were scrunched tight—as if that would make it stop. He was always afraid she’d make fun of him for being a crybaby.

Not tonight. Tonight she wanted to cry too.

She skipped over Lincoln logs and Tinkertoys and scrambled up onto the bed beside him, eager to get her cold feet under the covers. “Scooch over.”

Teddy’s bottom lip quivered but he made a supreme effort to stop crying, and shifted his small frame to give her room in the twin bed. She put an arm around his trembling shoulders and squeezed.

He let out a long sigh that matched her own. “Is…Daddy…gonna leave again?”

Hot tears pricked her eyes and told her she wasn’t so brave after all. But she couldn’t give in. Teddy needed her. Later, Mom probably would too.

“I don’t know. I heard them talking earlier. His editor wants to send him to Vietnam.”

“Vietnam?” Teddy looked up at her, fresh tears pooling. “Where’s that?”

Kristin rolled her eyes but guilt nudged off impatience. He was only ten for crying out loud. Well, almost ten. She couldn’t expect him to know everything. “Some place far away.” 

“Why do they want him to go there?”

“Because the French and the Vietnamese are fighting a big war and they want him to check it out.” Because their Dad was the best war correspondent that ever lived. Kristin ran her tongue over her bottom lip. “He has to go talk to some important people and write a story about it.”

Teddy shook his head and pulled on his blanket. “Why can’t somebody else do it? I want Dad to stay here. Tomorrow’s my birthday. We’re going to the ice rink, remember?”

“Yeah. I remember.”

He shivered and leaned against her shoulder. “But he’ll come back, right?”

Kristin screwed up her nose. Couldn’t he figure something out for himself for once?



“He’ll come back, right? And then we’ll go skating?”

She tried to smile but her heart pounded too fast. “Of course he’s coming back. He always comes back, dummy.”

“You promise?”

She hesitated a moment. What if Dad didn’t come back? What would they do then? “I promise. Now can you go back to sleep? It’s getting late.”

Mom and Dad were yelling again. Their voices seemed louder, closer. Kristin scrambled off Teddy’s bed and went to the door. She poked her head out in time to see her parents brush past her. Daddy held a suitcase in one hand, his battered leather briefcase in the other. And his coat was slung over one arm. Would he go without saying goodbye?

Kristin glanced back at Teddy, about to tell him to stay put, but her brother was already behind her, standing barefoot in blue cotton pajamas.

She grabbed his hand. “Come on.”

With Teddy squeezing her fingers so hard she thought he might pull them off, she ran down the stairs and drew up short at the entrance to the living room. The French doors were open. Teddy slammed into her and jumped back with a yelp. Mom and Dad turned their way.

Mom let out a little cry and shook her head, then put her mad face on. “What are you doing out of bed?” 

“We couldn’t sleep.” Kristin brushed hair out of her eyes and stuck out her chin. “You were making a lot of noise.”

Mom threw up her hands and huffed as she sank onto the couch. Kristin couldn’t remember ever seeing her wear her hair down, but tonight it fell around her cheeks and curled on her shoulders. She would have looked pretty if her face wasn’t so red and her eyes all puffy.

“I would’ve woken them anyway, Val.” Dad’s voice was gruff, but he didn’t sound angry anymore.

Mom glared at Dad, pulled at the belt around her green woolen dress and kicked off her high heels. “All yours then, Mac.”

Dad set his bags down and released a sigh from somewhere deep inside. His lips stretched apart in a feeble attempt at a smile. Dark circles lined his brown eyes and stubble covered his jaw. He looked from her to Teddy as if he didn’t know what to say.

The air suddenly got sucked out of the room, like someone untying the knot of a balloon. Kristin shook her head and yanked the sash of her robe as tight as it would go. Dad dropped to one knee in front of them and held out both arms. “Come here.”

Teddy ran to him. She knew he would. And he’d probably start blubbering again. Kristin folded her arms and pushed her toes into the rug. The goodbyes were the worst part. Try as she might, in the end she never could keep from crying.

Dad concentrated on Teddy. Her brother always believed everything.

She stood there, like playing statues in gym class, listening while Dad gave his excuses. Teddy would be satisfied with promises of season’s tickets to the Red Sox and a long train-ride from South Station to Grand Central and back, but she didn’t need bribes. She understood his job. Sort of.

Kristin blinked back tears as her brother threw his arms around Dad’s neck and hugged him tight. Then Mom took Teddy by the hand and led him back upstairs.

Kristin shifted, her feet like ice. She should have put on her slippers. Dad’s knees creaked as he rose and made his way toward her. He reached for her hand but she tightened her arms. A tear escaped and rolled off down her cheek. Kristin lowered her head.

“Oh, Kris.” Dad knelt before her. His hands warmed her arms through the sleeves of her robe. “Sweetheart, look at me.”

Kristin slowly raised her chin until she made eye contact. “Sorry.”

He raised an eyebrow. “What do you have to be sorry for?” 

She shrugged, but couldn’t think of a thing.

Kristin noticed for the first time a few streaks of gray in his hair. His white starched shirt sat open at the collar, his thin black tie slightly askew. Dad’s eyes were bright, sad. His mouth lifted in a grin as he wiped a tear from her cheek with the base of his thumb. When she sniffed, moisture shot up her nose. She gave a small involuntary shiver.

“Are you going to Vietnam to write about the war?”

His mouth twitched, like he was surprised she was so smart. Then something chased off the sad look and he smiled. “You’re going to make a fine journalist one day, young lady.”

Kristin raised her shoulders again and pushed out her bottom lip. “Mom won’t let me.”

“Sure she will. By then you’ll be all grown up. Making your own decisions. Leaving your old man in the dust.”

“We could write stories together,” she offered. “Taylor and Taylor.” Her grin faltered as she watched his eyes moisten. Kristin sucked in a breath. Dad never cried.

He pulled her to him and rested his lips against her forehead for a moment. “Sounds good to me.” He sat back on his heels, solemn. “Look after your brother.”

“I always do.”

“And don’t fight with your Mom.” 

Kristin looked down, studying the scuffs on his normally shiny shoes.


“Okay. I won’t.” She met his eyes again and the lump in her throat got bigger. Her skin prickled as an odd sensation slid down her spine. He’d left before. Lots of times. But this felt different. “You’re coming back, right?”

His face cracked in a funny sort of smile. “Of course I am. But you’ll pray for me, every night, just like always?”

“Yeah.” She tried to smile back. “God will keep you safe, Dad. He always does.” Kristin rested her head against his shoulder as he hugged her. She inhaled by habit. Tobacco and coffee mingled with the cologne he always wore. She could never remember the name of it, but they got a bottle for his birthday every year. He said he didn’t mind, but maybe this year they should do something different.

A flash of headlights chased dust across the room. Dad stood, his smile gone. “There’s my cab.”

Mom came forward and Dad took her in his arms.

“I’m sorry,” they whispered at the same time. Mom stepped back, rested her palm flat against Dad’s face. Her cheeks were streaked with tears. His hand came over hers and their eyes met as he pulled her closer and kissed her, a long kiss that seemed to go on forever. Kristin almost felt she shouldn’t be watching. But she was glad she was.

“Why does it have to be tonight?” Mom asked.

Dad shrugged, tucking a strand of her thick hair behind her ear. “War doesn’t wait on birthdays, Valerie.” Dad pulled on his coat, gave Mom a final kiss and picked up his bags. “I’ll call when I can.” He turned to Kristin. “Bye, kiddo. I love you.”

The little girl in her wanted to run back into her father’s arms and beg him not to go. But she wasn’t a little girl. She would turn thirteen this year. “Bye, Dad. Love you, too.”

Mom walked with him to the door. Kristin raced to the window at the front of the room, pressed her nose against the cold glass and watched him get into the waiting cab.

A light snow swirled around the soft yellow glow of the streetlamp outside their building. Maybe it would storm and his flight wouldn’t be able to leave Boston. Kristin pushed harder against the windowpane. It wouldn’t matter. He’d get another one. His job was very important. More important than anything else.

Even them.

The taxi pulled out onto the deserted street and Kristin squinted through the window. Her breath made it fog up and she wiped furiously, seeing Dad raise a hand in her direction. She waved back just in time before he drove away.

My Book Review:

Yesterday's Tomorrow is a hauntingly poignant story that transports the reader to the Vietnam War with an emotional tale of love, loss, faith, hope, family and friendship. In her debut novel, author Catherine West weaves a powerful and spellbinding tale written in the third person narrative that follows the journey of journalist Kristin Taylor, when she travels to Vietnam in 1967 to cover the war in the field, following in the footsteps of her beloved father, while also keeping an eye on her younger brother Teddy, who is serving in the Army. While there Kristin is partnered with photographer Luke Maddox, and together they go into the war zones and capture the real truth of what the soldiers are experiencing during the war.

Rich in vivid details and descriptions, the reader is transported to Saigon and to the outlying villages where the crack of gunfire and explosions of landmines is gritty and raw, it simply takes your breath away. Amidst the chaos, confusion and violence, Kristin and Luke find each other, their banter is a welcome relief from the tension and harsh reality of war. The development of their love story is tender, yet also has suspenseful twists and turns that keeps the pages turning. The complexity of their spiritual and emotional journey brings pieces of Vietnam home with them, their lives will never be the same.

Yesterday's Tomorrow is a beautifully crafted novel that easily draws the reader in, captivating them as they get lost in the story while experiencing the sights, sounds, smells and turmoil of Vietnam, coupled with complex characters who faced heart-wrenching decisions, while finding hope, faith and love during a very emotional and traumatic time in history.

Yesterday's Tomorrow is a compelling and thought-provoking story that is a must read, it is a story that will resonate with you for a very long time.


Yesterday's Tomorrow - Trailer

About The Author

Catherine West is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Her first novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, won the INSPY for Romance, a Silver Medal in the Reader’s Favorite Awards, and was a finalist in the Grace Awards. Catherine’s second novel, Hidden in the Heart, was also a finalist for a Grace Award. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two college-aged children.

Yesterday's Tomorrow by Catherine West ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Litfuse Publicity

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