(Gotta say- I love this cover. Notice the bullet holes in the title!)
Under a War-Torn Sky is an action-packed WWII historical adventure novel. The main character, Henry, is an American bomber pilot who's shot down over Switzerland. He parachutes to relative safety and makes it to a Red Cross hospital. After a short recovery there, he finds himself evading Germans as he moves (on foot!) from town to town across Switzerland, into France, and toward Spain. Along the way he sees the best in people and the worst.
As you can see from even that short description, the book is packed with adventure in every sentence. No matter where I tried to put down the book, I was always worried for Henry. The things that he had to endure on his path back to American forces were incredible.
The only fault I found with the book was that Henry seemed just a little "hokey." He was doggedly upbeat and positive, no matter what. And he was always telling those around him to look on the bright side. I know this was written for a young adult audience, but I'd say that the book could be appropriate for those readers as young as middle school; it's that clean. Personally, I found it just a little unbelievable. If he'd broken down and gotten mad at someone or cussed at an injury a time or two, that'd be more believable. I recently read Unbroken, a nonfiction WWII survival story, and the main subject persevered but did admit the hardship.
On a more positive note myself, I was impressed with the historical note at the end. Turns out the author wrote this story based loosely on her grandfather's experience during WWII, and his fellow pilots' experiences. It really seemed like Elliott put a lot of effort into research! The hubby reads quite a bit of WWII nonfiction, and I kept asking him about some plot points and he always verified their validity. So that was cool.
And to wrap things up, a note on the narration: it was pretty good. Not spectacular. Not the reader's fault. Just a little odd to hear Henry's story told in a female voice. But there was some French sprinkled in (not enough to confuse or deter a reader; don't worry) and the reader did that very well. She might have been a French speaker!
So I may or may not recommend this. I wouldn't hesitate to assign it as a reading assignment if I was a teacher, but teens may or may not get into this work of historic fiction on their own.
*I received a copy of Under a War-Torn Sky for free via Sync Summer Reads. Awesome!
**On a little bit of a personal note.... today is my birthday and I'm now 30! Can't believe it. New decade; new, exciting things ahead!