Kass is fifteen, finally done with school and able to wait tables full-time at Herr Schramm’s diner. She’s glad to be earning her share, and she doesn’t miss school. After the war started in Europe, stories about German atrocities appeared in the newspapers, and then sometimes in civics class, and then in the taunts of the students who speak English at home. “Lies,” Kass’s father said. “Germans don’t behave like that.” “Who knows?” Pastor Baum said. “When men are trained to kill, who can know that they will not behave like that? Likely the English soldiers are no better.” “Don’t argue at school,” her father told her. She didn’t. She’s good at not saying things. She’s mostly learned to hide her nightmares and her daytime fears so her father won’t know she’s crazy like her grandmother. He guesses, he worries, but he doesn’t know. She hopes no one else guesses.
Joanna Michal Hoyt, a Quaker, lives and works with her family on a Catholic Worker farm in upstate NY. She’s learning to deal constructively with her irrational anxieties, and she wonders what could heal the irrational fear of immigrants and “others” which afflicts so many of her fellow citizens. Writing “Cracked Reflections” allowed her to explore these issues, and the role of religion, in a different context. Robert Murray’s Red Scare and Ann Bausum’s Unraveling Freedom provided historical background.