Review: “Letters From Korea, Legacy of Honor Series, Volume 2,” Joan Leotta

legacy of koreaJoan Leotta has taken the ordinary act of letter writing and made the action into an extraordinary love story in “Letters From Korea,” the second book in her Legacy of Honor series.

The book opens with Sgt. Sal Leonardi on his way to Korea, regretting that he never told Gina DeBartolo how much he loves her. He is pleased he’ll be serving his country by being a pharmacist in Korea, but his only means of communicating with Gina is via letters. He avoids writing about his feelings toward her because of the uncertainty of war and the miles between them. Instead he writes about mundane things, such as the weather and what his duties are.

Gina, on the other hand, waits for letters from Sal, hoping he reveals he cares for her beyond thinking of her as a little sister. When his letters don’t contain any romantic elements, she doesn’t know what his feelings are toward her. She has moved to Pittsburgh where she has acquired a job at University of Pittsburgh working in the laboratory of Dr. Jonas Salk, the research doctor who discovered the first successful polio vaccine, and plans to earn her degree in chemistry. She tells Sal about these events in her life, but does not include her romantic feelings toward him, thus the two are basically in limbo. However, intrigue develops in Pittsburgh, not only with Sal’s letters, but with Gina’s job.

Jealousy, theft, surveillance, espionage and feigned concern by those Gina meets at Pitt are all part of the plot. The book also expresses a philosophy of life that embraces honesty, integrity and charity and includes close family bonds. The author provides a wide spectrum of ideas that encourages readers to evaluate their own value systems.

Leotta also demonstrates her knowledge of Korean and Italian foods. Readers are sure to glean other benefits of reading the book and will probably want to know more about Gina’s family, especially since Guilia, John, Anna Maria, Carmie, Ernie and others continue their roles in this book, which were started in the first Legacy of Honor book, “Giulia Goes to War.”

The third book, “A Bowl of Rice,” concerns the Vietnam War and is due out in March 2014.

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