Reviews and bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.
If I am lost, you will find me in medieval England.
You can also find me - and my books - on my blog.
Through the eyes of Henry Forrester, average American teenager, readers of Under a War Torn Sky are taken up into the skies over Europe and deep into the trenches of the French Resistance during World War II. This is a novel that does not need to be praised with the condition that it is a great read "for YA." Readers of any age can learn about the heart-wrenching experiences of this young bomber pilot and be captivated by his story.
The author created this fictional story based on the first hand accounts of her own father and his friends. Sharing these experiences is not something that all veterans are willing to do, and, as time goes by, less are around to do so. That makes this novel even more impressive, and it reads much like a personal memoir. The gritty truth of running from the Nazi's is presented realistically while still being appropriate for younger readers. In fact, I feel that many of them would benefit from understanding what people their age went through and are capable of. (We expect so little from our teenagers these days, but that's another story.)
There is little that Henry Forrester does not go through from the time his plane is shot down over German occupied France. He meets amazing people, loses friends, has to make impossible choices, and is forced to keep moving without the opportunity to discover whether those who dare to help him live or die. Henry himself is a somewhat naive Virginia farm boy, who is quickly hardened by what he experiences. He struggles to live by the principles that he has been raised by in the face of inhuman cruelty. In him, it is easy to see millions of young men just like him, many of whom never made it home.
Since my grandfather was a pilot in WWII, I appreciate and enjoy stories like this that bring to life the daily hardships and concerns of men that weren't expected to live for more than 16 missions. This book is a wonderful one for younger readers who want to learn about WWII. I would also recommend And Some Fell on Stony Ground as a somewhat deeper look into the mind of an RAF pilot.