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What Leora Never Knew

She's done it again! Only this time it's even better!

I refer to the latest book by Joy Neal Kidney, the keeper of her family's history. My copy arrived in my mailbox yesterday, and although I had already read the pre-publication manuscript, I immediately wanted to re-read it.

This new work, titled What Leora Never Knew: A Granddaughter's Quest for Answers, is a companion book and sequel to her first book, Leora's Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family during World War II.

Whereas the earlier work recounts the true story of how five brothers served during the war, only two of whom came home, this latest work tells, as famed radio commentator Paul Harvey would have said, "the rest of the story." It reflects Kidney's years of hard work and her relentless quest to uncover exactly what happened to those three brothers. It is heavily documented and illustrated, relating all the things the grieving mother, Leora, never knew about her sons' fate. Kidney has demonstrated how relentless digging can reveal amazing family history.

I now am blessed to have the entire set of Kidney's family history. Although they were not written in strictly chronological order, here are their titles in the order the events they describe occurred:

  1. Leora's Early Years: Guthrie County Roots

  2. Leora's Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression

  3. Leora's Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family during World War II

  4. What Leora Never Knew: A Granddaughter's Quest for Answers

Although any one of them can stand on its own, the whole series is even better when read in conjunction with the others.

It is also helpful to know about the author. Joy Neal Kidney is a native of Iowa, the oldest granddaughter of Leora, of whom she writes. She graduated from the University of Northern Iowa. Married to Guy, a Vietnam War veteran and former air traffic controller, she lives in central Iowa, where she writes and speaks about her books and family history. She is the recipient of the 2021 Great American Storyteller Award, bestowed by Lee Habeeb, founder and host of the national Our American Stories radio program, for which she also is a frequent contributor.

I had the good fortune to interview Joy for my blog, and you can access the reports of them at the following links: (Part 1) and

You can also learn more about Joy and her books on her own website at

I strongly encourage my readers to become her readers, too. She's a great writer with great stories about a great American family.

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