Sunday, 6 April 2014
What I Read in March
I had such good intentions for March. I had planned on reading three books as part of The Year In Books hosted by Laura of Circle of Pine Trees but it turned out to be such a busy month that I only managed one.
'City of Fate' is the second historical novel for teenagers by Irish author Nicola Pierce, and is published by The O'Brien Press of Dublin.
I don't normally read teenage fiction, and indeed there was no such thing as teenage fiction when I was a teenager, but a review copy landed on my desk at work so I decided to read it.
The book opens as Yuri celebrates his 14th birthday by swimming in the river Volga with his friends. As they splash in the water, the drone of planes fill the sky and sirens warn citizens of an air-raid. After months of threats, the Germans are finally bombing Stalingrad. Yuri spends the next two weeks hiding in the cellar of his home with his mother and baby sister, as the relentless bombing of the city continues.
After she leaves with the ailing baby, Yuri is left to fend for himself, before befriending first, five year old Peter, and then Tanya. Together they live on their wits in a city invaded by the enemy.
Far off in the countryside, Vlad and his classmates are forced to join the Russian army and march to defend Stalingrad. Those who try to turn back are shot on the spot so they have no choice but to advance to the front.
They must quickly lose their boyish innocence as they take part in one of the most decisive battles of the Second World War.
Although written for younger readers, 'City of Fate' pulls no punches in its descriptions of the brutality of war. Telling the story through the eyes of children, it focuses on their resilience in the face of horror.
I found it a most interesting read and it would certainly be useful to any teenagers studying European history.
As March was a hectic month, I only managed to start the second book on my list - 'A Star Called Harry' by Roddy Doyle, and I've also started reading 'French Women Don't Get Facelifts' by Mireille Guiliano. I'll tell you what I thought of them at the end of April.