Friday, 11 February 2011
Remembrance - Theresa Breslin
"By the end of the War, more than half the army was under nineteen years old. The old die, and we are accustomed to that. It is almost a proper thing. They signify the past which slips away, as it should. But the death of youth denies us what might have come. Our present is obliterated and our future altered irrevocably".
The above is a quote from one of the characters towards the end of the book. That is extraordinary. " ...by the end of the War, more than half the army was under nineteen years old". It was the war to end all wars, and it didn't, of course, no war will ever be. Theresa Breslin has researched well, and written a very truthful book about youth and war. The five main characters are all very young, and this is WW1 seen from their viewpoint. They all contribute to the war effort in some way, joining up, becoming nurses, being conscripted.... and having to just keep going, loosing their youth on the way. Most of the conditions in the trenches are described by the oldest of the five, who didn't want to be there, but as an officer had to support his men, in letters home to a friend. She wrote back, and doing so, she found that she was no longer the daughter of a shopkeeper who would be expected to marry soon, but someone who could have views of her own, and someone who could broaden her mind with books. There are heartbreaking passages, but its an easy book to read. Aimed at YAs, but would suit any age if interested in the Great War. The stupidity(?) of Haig and many senior officers was breathtaking, and is only touched on here, but it is easy to see why so many men died. The descriptions of those left at home to wait and wonder are also something we don't always think about, the "hope that perhaps..." which may or may not become reality. I was glad to have read this as my Remembrance Day read last year.... and put it on now hoping that some of you will find it and read it.