Rachel Booker has a difficult start in life. When her father dies, deep in gambling debt, her mother must harden herself to make ends meet, but becomes so hard she has little room left for affection or warmth. Mother and daughter work at the open market in Birmingham, selling second-hand clothes or whatever they can find just to put a little food on the table.
But the market has a silver lining: it's there that Rachel makes her first childhood friend, Danny. As they grow older, the friendship grows into something more and their innocent romance gives Rachel the care and comfort she's always craved. But at just sixteen, as World War II breaks out, Rachel falls pregnant. They marry in haste but it isn't long before Danny is called up.
Left on the home front with a new baby and little else, Rachel must scrape by with the other residents of Sparkbrook. But if Danny ever makes it home, will he be the same boy she loved so fiercely? And if Rachel can sustain the family until then, will she end up as hard-hearted as her own mother?
Annie Murray's War Babies is a moving and insightful novel about hardships on the home front and how the war changed everybody it touched . . .