From School Library Journal
Grade 7-9–In 2004, Constable Sergei Andropov, an elderly Russian investigator, is called to a construction site where workers have discovered two long-buried soldiers from the siege at Stalingrad. As he wonders about their identity, his memories flood back to when he was eight years old, and readers are transported back to 1942. Through the eyes of the boy and various soldiers, the long, harrowing siege is realistically recounted. Conrad is a German tank officer full of youthful optimism. His brother, Josef, has already been fighting for three years. Vasily is a naive Russian youth who wants to live up to his fathers expectations, and Yelena is a cool and confident sniper. Secondary characters represent the different archetypes found in standard wartime fiction (the optimist, the realist, the cynic, the joker, the drunk, and the lover). Grim details are meticulously drawn. The action-filled text flows easily from steppe to city battle scenes. Christmas 1942 finds all of the principal characters in Stalingrad, where they are bound together by a cruel twist of fate. Back in the present day, Sergeis reminiscences help him identify the victims. Wilson takes an overlooked moment or perspective in history and makes it come alive. It will appeal to younger teens interested in realistic war fiction. However, older teens would do better to read Erich Maria Remarques All Quiet on the Western Front
(Little, Brown, 1929).–Christina Stenson-Carey, Albany Public Library, NY
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About the Author
John Wilson is the author of more than a dozen historical fiction and non-fiction books for young people and adults. He lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.