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Communion by Jean Blasiar and Jonathan Marcantoni

Reviewed by Cy Hilterman

An excellently written story of a young girl that seemingly lost her ability to speak for some unknown reason at a very young age. The story begins in the 1930’s and takes place mostly in Ohio. Melanie and Edward Commons brought Gem home from the hospital in May of 1937. They had named her Gemini but due to the grandparent’s disgust of not giving this beautiful new girl a Christian name, they used “Gem” for her known name. Those grandparents, Abigail and Frederick Commons, especially Abigail, differed as to the name and, as it turned out, almost everything in the life of Gem from that day forward. Abigail turned almost anything negative when Gem was involved.

The younger Commons moved into the second floor of the grandparents house and the older Commons moved their things to the first floor. In some ways it made things hard living in an old house with squeaky floors and stairs, hearing all kinds of noises where activity occurred, including bedsprings! Edward worked as an assistant baker at the town bakery while Melanie was a part-time art instructor at the local high school and part-time as a free-lance artist. She was an excellent artist able to turn any subject into its actual appearance through her art abilities. Fred was great with Gem but Abigail tried to stay away and discourage any activity of Gem.

When WWII began, Edward wanted to enlist for two years in the military feeling that if he was drafted it would be for four years. The family was devastated when he left for the service. The care of Gem was changed immediately. The big problem being that when Abigail was around Gem, she acted like she could see right through her grandmother and from that point on she could not speak no matter who was around. Life went on with the family with Edward away while Melanie tried various sources to find out what might be wrong with Gem but no answer was found. The family received a letter saying that Edward was “missing” which devastated the family. As the war went on, Gem was placed in schools while her voiceless problem was still being researched, Melanie went to work in an aircraft factory but Fred was too old to work there, but the uncertain edge was still in everyone’s mind about the knowledge of where Edward was, if he was alive. Melanie continued her artistry which brought her employers interest asking her to draw certain things for the war effort with the first being a model of Betty Grable on an airplane.