Book one, The Gift, takes us back to the days of WWII with a set of cassette tapes telling the story of three Iowa farm girls who went to California to work at an aircraft factory and hospital at a nearby navy base. Grace, a country schoolteacher, and her younger twin sisters Vera and Violet. When they returned, their family would never be the same.

In the contemporary story, Gracie puts together an exhibit of local quilts and tries to resolve the problems in her long-distance relationship with Steve. When Aunt Violet moves to town, Gracie gets an unexpected gift from Grandma Grace, who died two years earlier. Aunt Violet explains that she found it and saved it, waiting for the right time. The gift is a large wicker basket filled with a quilt, two aprons, and several shoeboxes, including a small cassette recorder and a box of tapes. As Gracie listens to the recordings with Aunt Violet, she hears her grandma Grace tell a story about her family and the "California" patchwork quilt, hidden away for sixty years. As Grandma Grace used to say, "Every quilt has a story."

My mother's wicker basket, memoir pieces, and our set of family quilts were the inspiration for The Gift. And the quilts are stored in Grandpa Lee's old chest.

My mother, Charlotte, was a country school teacher, and one of three sisters who came of age during WWII. Her older sister Reva married a soldier and moved to New Jersey. Her younger sister Jeanne married a mechanic and they moved west to build B-17 bombers at Rohr Aircraft in Chula Vista, California. Charlotte took the train to California to help Jeanne with baby Jimmy and later got a job at Rohr's Aircraft herself, as a riveter. Those true adventures fueled my imagination, as did mom's vintage wicker basket and her big notebook filled with chapters about her life during WWII.

Endorsements for The Gift

Cherie Dargan’s Debut novel, The Gift, is just that— a gift. The book weaves themes of love, family secrets, broken hearts, as well as gifts of family, friendship, sacrifice, and community that bind us. The Gift offers a panoramic view of life during and after World War II and how it shaped the lives of those who fought and those who supported our troops at home.

Dargan’s breakout novel is an excellent choice for those who love to read true-to-life stories about history, romance, redemption, and resilience—or who simply love a good book drawn from the pages of real life.

Shelly Beach, multiple award-winning author, speaker, consultant

Trauma Consultant, ITRÒ

Co-Founder, Cedar Falls Christian Writers Workshop

Author of Hallie’s Heart and Morningsong: A Novel

The Gift is a peek into an Iowa farm family. It pieces the present day and past into a quilt filled with details about World War 2. Through the eyes of Gracie, the main character, readers see how past trauma and life choices impact family relationships for generations to come. Those who enjoy books about family, quilting, and the 1940s will find this one to be a comfortable read.

Jolene Philo–Author of Does My Child Have PTSD?

What To Do When Your Child Is Hurting from the Inside Out and

See Jane Run! A West River Mystery

"Quilt lovers will flock to this novel which offers mystery, love, betrayal, and family reconciliation played out in two connecting eras."

Barbara Lounsberry, Author, Virginia Woolf diaries trilogy

Emerita Professor of English, University of Northern Iowa

Cherie Dargan’s debut novel, The Gift, reminds us that “simpler times” may not have been so simple after all, and have much to offer our contemporary society. As the heroine, Gracie, unravels long-kept family secrets through the cassette tapes her grandmother left for her, she learns how our foundations help us through disturbing situations and difficult decisions. This story embraces the past to offer a heartwarming read in the present.

Gail Kittleson, author of With Each New Dawn, Land that I Love, Until Then (Historical Fiction) @GailGkittleson

I love this story! Cherie Dargan can sure paint a beautiful word picture! She spins a gorgeous adventure in the first installment of her Grandmother’s Treasures series where she treats us to an up-close look at one of her personal family stories in The Gift. I, for one, am grateful. It’s a colorful, lush and adventurous story, infused with grit, determination, and gutsy, likable characters (especially the females!). Her descriptive style had me craving corn muffins and chili as well as traveling and travailing with her on her journey of discovery.

I would highly recommend this book and I can't wait for the next in the series!

Wanda Sanchez

Certified PTSD/Trauma Support Coach

Award-winning author, Love Letters from the Edge (Kregel Publishers)

Co-Founder, Scribe Tribe Writers

Conference Speaker, Executive Producer for Salem Radio Network

Contributor to Guideposts books, The Mighty, PTSD Perspectives

Last Updated October 18, 2022