I Loved Her Enough by Diane H. Lane is the true story of a five-year-old traveling from the State of New York to Delaware during the Great Depression era.

The sorrowful and heart-rending story of Eilleen and her sacrifices is the fulcrum of I Loved Her Enough by Diane H. Lane. It is a genuine biographical narrative of Eilleen, only five years old, and her journey from New York City to Delaware as the troubles of the Great Depression era happened around her and her family—and finding miracles as she overcomes them all. It is a story of hardship and challenge but ultimately wonder and love. 

The sensation of the twists and turns of how Eilleen’s life unravels is a thing of beauty, a brilliant love story where readers see the intimate details of her healing and the beauty amidst the tragedy of her childhood.

The story of Eilleen is quite the remarkable one. Her father had either passed away or was no longer around in any meaningful capacity, and her mother was slowly dying, agonizing because of tuberculosis. The only pillar in her life that was left was Grandmother Anna, who seemed older than the dirt she walked on and who had the burden of raising three young girls but without the resources necessary to give them a good life. 

1933, in the midst of the Great Depression, they lived in Queens, a New York City borough, when times were definitely hard and life, in general, was extremely severe. 

It was when The Fresh Air Fund’s summer program opened that life for five-year-old Eilleen would completely change for the better. Her travels between the States of New York and Delaware would help her discover that the life she believed to be tragic and perplexing was actually one that was merely slow in its unfolding as a wonderful story of love

This is the story of healing and beauty, a revisiting of a once-scorned childhood and looking at the truth and the reality of things through the wisdom of a much more mature pair of eyes.

This story, though tragic in many respects, will leave readers in tears and break their hearts—but it will also give them hope and faith, inspiring them that there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Life During the Great Depression Era for Children

It is quite difficult to overstate the impacts of the economic collapse of the 1930s (historically known as the Great Depression Era) if you are looking back from the perspective of living in the 21st century. 

In just a short span of four years, a quarter of the millions of families in the United States lost many of their breadwinners. Even those families who had more favorable conditions and still had their breadwinners had to contend with monstrous pay cuts and a severe reduction in working hours. 

A staggering 90% of all companies had to cut down on costs, effectively limiting the means for many families to survive. In 1932, three-quarters of employed individuals were now working part-time.

All across the country, especially in Pennsylvania, where the coal fields once employed hundreds of thousands, families were forced to huddle in single-room houses and subsist on wild plants. Families in Arkansas had to flee to caves, while those in California survived in the sewers.

The Great Depression was destructive and affected virtually everyone. Many were compelled to second-guess marriage prospects, and the birthrate plummeted severely below the earlier national average—for the first time ever in the history of the United States. Although the divorce rate fell—solely because the cost of it was too high—separations skyrocketed, and by 1940, more than a million married individuals were living apart from their spouses. Almost a quarter of a million children was forced to become vagrants because their families had essentially dissolved.

Family life during the Great Depression era looked almost like nothing before and after the period. Children were the ones most badly affected by the massive and tremendous changes. It could even be said, and not without justification, that childhood was non-existent.