STORYLINE: Ten-year-old Bobby Klocker is fascinated with the German prisoners of war who help work his father’s land. While he understands their situation, Bobby finds it hard to comprehend why his American-born friend of Japanese ancestry is treated differently. Ultimately, that friend (Richard) and his family are forced to live in a camp. Bobby’s older brother complicates things further by displaying the same prejudices the boys see outside their home. A run-in at school forces the brothers to choose what’s important—acting on instilled family values or conforming because of peer pressure.
I LIKED: seeing things as they would have looked in 1943. The writer does a good job creating what feels like a genuine backdrop for the story. The friendship between Bobby and Richard is inspiring, reminding me that children are tolerant and don’t have prejudices until adults poison their minds. There are also some poignant moments, one of which occurs when the boys go to visit the Japanese family in the camp.
I COULD HAVE LIVED WITHOUT: the up close and personal view of how mean-spirited people can be, but the book teaches valuable lessons that cannot not be conveyed otherwise.
OVERALL COMMENTS: This War We’re In explores several important themes, including choices, forgiveness and friendship. As the story progresses, the boys each mature in their own way, including Bobby’s older brother Edward.
COVER NOTE: The cover captures the era in which the story is told.
SOURCE: I received a copy of the book from the writer in exchange for a review.