Long Way Home: A World War II Novel

ABOUT Cheryl Head

cheryl head
I tried lots of things before I settled down to be a writer.    My career as a television producer, filmmaker, broadcast executive, media funder has taken me to every continent except Antarctica and Australia.  I'm an ardent observer, always trying to connect the dots.  I get help fro More...



Georgette Newton seems to have a predictable future.  She will work on the family farm, marry her high school sweetheart, and continue the tradition of raising kids and crops in rural North Carolina.   But she yearns to see the exciting places she reads about in Look magazine and infuriates her parents when, during World War 2, she joins the exclusive U.S. Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.

LeRoy Dowdell’s sensitivity makes him a misfit in his family and his community.  A world-class musician, he longs to play in a big band like that of Tommy Dorsey or Duke Ellington.   He lies about his age and enlists in the army to escape his disapproving father and the rumors of  a small town.  He hopes a soldier’s uniform will be his ticket to travel overseas where Negro jazz performers are revered.  

It is 1943 and America’s involvement in the Great War is at its height.  The paths of these two young dreamers cross on a segregated army base near Tucson, Arizona where they fall in love, fight personal battles and complete their journeys of self discovery.  

Nearly one million black soldiers served in WWII, most never facing combat.  Long Way Home imagines the daily lives and loves of these men and women, far away from the front lines, whose struggles and triumphs paved the way for civil rights in America. 

I began writing this story after viewing Ken Burns' successful documentary, The War. Most WWII novels, films and documentaries focus on the valor of soldiers in combat. That's where the action is. But for many Negro soldiers who served during World War II, hoping to achieve glory in battle, the experience was far different. Unit after unit of black servicemen and women were resigned to be left behind. Away from the front lines and glory in battle. Instead they served in in a segregated U. S. military where their daily battles were personal but nonetheless courageous. Long Way Home tells the story of two of these soldiers.