The Meaning of Names

Karen Shoemaker (Author)


Stuart, Nebraska is a long way from the battlefields of Western Europe, but it is not immune to the horrors of the first Great War for Peace. Like all communities, it has lost sons and daughters to the fighting, with many more giving themselves over to the hatred only war can engender.

Set in 1918 in the farm country at the heart of America, The Meaning of Names is the story of an ordinary woman trying to raise a family during extraordinary times. Estranged from her parents because she married against their will, confronted with violence and prejudice against her people, and caught up in the midst of the worst plague the world has ever seen, Gerda Vogel, an American of German descent, must find the strength to keep her family safe from the effects of a war that threatens to consume the whole world.

Product Details

$15.95  $14.67
Red Hen Press
Publish Date
March 01, 2014
5.63 X 0.7 X 8.44 inches | 0.65 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Karen Gettert Shoemaker is the author of Night Sounds and Other Stories. Awards for her writing include a Nebraska Press Association Award for Feature Writing, two Independent Artist Fellowship Awards from the Nebraska Arts Council, and a Nebraska Book Award for Short Fiction. Her work has been published in a variety of newspapers and journals, including The London Independent, Prairie Schooner, Kalliope, and The South Dakota Review, and anthologized in A Different Plain: Contemporary Nebraska Fiction Writers, Times of Sorrow/Times of Grace, An Untidy Season, and Nebraska Presence: An Anthology of Poetry. She is a faculty mentor with the University of Nebraska's MFA in Writing Program. She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she and her husband own and operate Shoemaker's Truck Stop and Travel Center.


Suddenly, 'liberty cabbage' replaces 'sauerkraut' on food menus, job advertisements warn 'no krauts need apply, ' and neighbors demand the nearby university stop teaching courses in 'that vile language....' Shoemaker crafts eminently realistic characters; her descriptions of unreasonable fear and hatred are particularly effective.
--Publishers Weekly

"Reading this novel puts the reader on the edge of her seat; it is intensely moving, and Shoemaker teaches lessons about social tolerance and how dangerous small-mindedness can be, an important lesson for all ages, but especially today."
--Biljana D. Obradovic, World Literature Today

The Meaning of Names... explores exactly that - what message does a simple name convey? How is that meaning twisted during times of trial? Shoemaker presents readers with a simple, realistic cast of characters, a heart-rending story of endurance, and reminds us that both prejudice and forgiveness take many forms.
--Historical Novel Society

Complicated American history mixes with the promise of life and the fear of human coping in Karen Gettert Shoemaker's delightfully rich novel.... Both a historical fiction of the plains and a tapestry of human emotion, The Meaning of Names comes forth with purpose, showing promise to readers native to Nebraska and, plainly, to anyone interested in a good read.
--L Magazine

Shoemaker writes with even, rhythmic, beautifully colored prose... a book of big themes, true history and serious art.
--Lincoln Journal Star

Omaha Reads Author Karen Gettert Shoemaker on Nebraska, Writing and Libraries