Review of “Guilia Goes to War” (Legacy of Honor Book One) by Joan Leotta

In the novel “Guilia Goes to War,” book one in the Legacy of Honor series by Joan Leotta, Giulia (pronounced Julia but spelled in traditional Italian) DeBartolo of fictional Avocatown, Pa. wants to contribute her share to the war effort in the forties, but her parents construct a roadblock she has difficulty breaking. With their two sons already fighting overseas, they want to protect their daughter, but what lies underneath is their strict adherence to Italian culture, including spelling Julia the Italian way. They don’t want Giulia to have dates, although she has graduated from high school. They want her to stay close to home and work in the family store.

Relatives convince the DeBartolos that Giulia is needed at the shipyard in Wilmington, N.C., and that’s where a new world opens up for this young lady. She makes friends, meets single men, witnesses subterfuge and confronts head-on conflicts with her parents.

Romance, history and intrigue are interwoven with the historical data and cultural mores in this novel. Leotta, a professional storyteller, wraps her arms around facts not usually taught in history class, shows how important it was to the DeBartolos to maintain their cultural heritage, and demonstrates how Guilia acquires her independence.

The book is a solid basis for understanding American families during World War II and a fascinating contrast to life in America today. Book Two, “Legacy of Honor: Letters from Korea,” is due out May 2013. Check out Joan’s Web site at

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