My Friend The Enemy by Dan Smith

The Souvenir

My Friend The Enemy by Dan Smith is a powerful children’s historical novel that completely consumed me. It is perfect for ages ten years and over. Whatever your age, this is a great read.

The book is set in 1941 in a village in the north east of England. All the action is seen through the eyes of twelve year old Peter, and is written in the first person. The reader becomes intimately acquainted with him. For the duration of the novel, I ‘became’ Peter.

We see how hard war is for everyone. Peter’s father is away at war; his friend Kim’s brother is fighting; and a German plane crashes near the village. Plus, there are raids and rationing. War touches everyone.

Peter’s mother functions as a single parent whilst his father is away. We witness the difficulty of trying to feed herself and Peter, and of being both mother and father to him.

The air raids are vividly portrayed. Bombs fall on the village as German planes shed their loads before flying home. A plane crashing in a field causes panic amongst the locals as a parachutist was seen minutes before but is nowhere to be seen. Hunt the Nazi becomes the latest craze.

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Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Serenely Unique

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata is a beautiful contemporary novel surrounding the life of the convenience store woman.

This is a very serene novel that soothes the reader’s heart and soul.

We see how convenience store woman mimics others in order to fit in. She lives to work in the convenience store. Her heart and soul desire the routine and predictability of the nature of her work.

In her desire to fit in, convenience store woman tries to be what society tells her she should be – but she was not made to conform to society. Her goal is to simply be a convenience store woman.

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The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakani

Escaping Daily Life

The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami is a poignant contemporary Japanese fiction offering which I enjoyed.

We meet the inhabitants of the Nakano Thrift shop – Mr Nakano, his two assistants and his sister. The action is told in the first person through the eyes of the young female assistant, Hitomi. She is perceptive in her observations as we hear about her daily life.

We meet a few regulars, as well as accompanying some of the collection runs.

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A Song Of Silence by Steve N Lee

The Love Remains

A Song Of Silence by Steve N Lee is the most powerful and heartbreaking historical novel that totally consumed me. It is set in Poland beginning in 1939 as war breaks out. The roots of the story are grounded in fact, being based on the very brave Janusz Korczak who ran an orphanage. I knew about this real life incredibly brave man, so I had an idea where the book was going.

The reader witnesses the Nazis walking into a village where the lead character Mirek Kozlowski has his orphanage. It was a time of great horror. Families were desperate to escape but “there was nowhere to run.” The author has conveyed the fear and the horror. It is a horror that gets deeper and darker as the grip of the Nazis intensifies.

Mirek Kozlowski is a well-rounded, fully believable character. His heart is huge. He turns no one away from his orphanage and is well loved by all.

Mirek Kozlowski practices sacrificial love. Every action he undertakes is for the good of the children in his care. He doesn’t want to lose even one life – but the Nazi war machine breaks his heart.

As a lead character, Mirek Kozlowski faces many choices. His choices are always for the good of the children.

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