By: Judy S. Blackstock

Under the Same Blue Sky
Pamela Schoenewaldt, author
William Morrow Paperbacks
352 pages

Knoxville author Pamela Schoenewaldt continues writing entertaining historical fiction with the publication of her third novel, Under The Same Blue Sky.

As with her first two books–When We Were Strangers and Swimming With The Moon–the story is driven by a strong female immigrant or first generation American living in a specific time of American history.


Under The Same Blue Sky begins in Pittsburgh’s foundries district. Hazel Henner is the immigrant heroine of this story, and the time period is just before World War I. She and her parents, originally from Germany, live above the hardware store owned by her father, Johannes. The Henners have done everything right as new citizens to insure success for their daughter, and the only discord in their lives is what career the intelligent and artistically talented girl will follow.

Their choices include lawyer, professor or doctor, particularly doctor, for as her mother, Katarina, says, “… have the healing touch.” But is Hazel able to heal or is it just circumstance? With heart, the author chronicles Hazel’s uncertainties as she develops the strength to believe in her inner self.

When World War I erupts in Europe, their American lives instantly become entwined with the devastating warfare across the ocean. Johannes reads every war report and becomes obsessed with death and the destruction of the old country. It becomes increasingly difficult for the German-American family to live normally. Schoenewaldt creates an a vivid picture of a day-to-day world where former friends now look upon the Henners as the enemy.

The mystical elements in each of Schoenewaldt’s novels can be a distraction if the reader stops to debate peculiarities like a house’s special blue paint emitting healing vibrations. But that is a small price to pay for the riches in information that crowd her stories.

In Under the Same Blue Sky, I particularly appreciated the attention she paid to shell shocked soldiers trying to return to the lives they so willingly left behind to defend their country.

A well written historical novel puts emotions into facts found in history books. Schoenewaldt uses immigration to the United States as the basis for her stories. Each of her novels takes a passage in the life of an immigrant: the struggle to get to America, crusading for a better America, and living through a conflict between the old country and America. Her talent lies in creating stories that entertain and educate. I look forward to the next installment.

Pamela Schoenewaldt will discuss Under the Same Blue Sky in Knoxville on:

Thursday, May 7, at the Laurel Theater at 7 p.m.;

Thursday, May 14, lecture “Shell Shock & PTSD: Fiction & Fact,” along with Dr. Ellison Mitchell, at Lawson McGhee Public Library, 6:30-8 p.m.; and

Friday, June 5, at Union Ave. Books at 6 p.m.

If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy Knoxzine’s Interview with Pamela Schoenewaldt.

© Judy S. Blackstock

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