Monday, March 19, 2012

Review: Eddie’s War

Eddie’s War, by Carol Fisher Saller. The summary:
World War II. Hitler is threatening to take over the world. Eddie Carl thinks America should stop him-it's just plain right. But Eddie's just a kid, and the farm in Ellisville, Illinois, is a long way from the fighting. Ellisville: where the big news stories are gophers in the graveyard and the new bank alarm.

But then America joins the war and Eddie's brother Thomas goes off to fly a bomber. Suddenly the war doesn't seem so far away. And Eddie faces more grown-up problems at home: A fire at the Strothers' place, and his gypsy friend accused of arson. Grampa Rob, all stubborn and mean. Grama Lucy with her secrets. And that redhead Sarah, who definitely likes him-unless maybe she hates him.

Somehow Eddie's in the middle of it all, trying to figure out what's right. Let Thomas fight World War II. Eddie's war is right here in Ellisville.

Eddie's War is a lyrical collection of prose vignettes linking Eddie, his family, and a small-town cast of Ellisvillians. Poignant and funny, this World War II story tells how a distant war affects the life of one boy in the Heartland.
This book had two major things going for it, in my opinion--two things that practically destined me to adore it.

The first is that it takes place during World War II. I’ve always been fascinated by the 1940s (a fact that I blame on the countless black-and-white movies I was raised on), but I haven’t read very much fiction set in the time period that wasn’t a Holocaust book (no joke, I think all the books I read in 6th grade took place during the Holocaust). This book was a totally different setting--rural America. And it completely intrigued me. I’d never given overly much thought to what life was like on the American home front during the war. But Saller managed to make me feel completely immersed and at home with her farm/small town setting and got me thinking about what life was like for the people who didn’t go to war, who stayed at home trying to keep their lives together and waiting for their boys to come home. And I don’t know how she did it, really. The book is in verse, so there’s not exactly a ton of description going on, but I finished the book feeling like I had a good grasp of what Eddie and his family’s life was like.

The second thing that I loved about the book was the fact that it was written in verse. I didn’t realize that that’s how it was written before I picked it up, but since I’m a total sucker for books in verse, I’ll admit it biased me in its favor before I even finished the first page. All the other books in verse that I’ve read have basically been teenage girls whining about their problems, so Eddie’s War was refreshing in that it’s from the point of view of a middle school boy. It never ceased to amaze me throughout the book how much emotion and plot Saller managed to get across without explicitly saying it; so much story is told between the lines, but I never felt like the characters or story were underdeveloped.

And can I just add that I fell a little in love with Eddie’s older brother, Thomas? Okay, maybe more than a little.

The only issue I had with the book was that Eddie comes off as a little too perfect. I mean, he’s a middle school boy, and while I know boys that age can be as good-hearted as Eddie, I don’t really believe that they can be that well-behaved.

Overall, I think this book is definitely worth reading. It’s quiet and understated but pretty dang powerful, and it opened up a world to me that I never spent much time thinking about before.

Rating: 4 / 5

Received for review

1 comment:

  1. Eddie's war is a great book and I loved reading your review of it! Like you, I was awed by the depth and breadth of a story told in such few words.


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