Saturday, September 21, 2013

International Day of Peace

Today is the International Day of Peace. To mark the occasion, we offer books about war, to remind us of why peace is so important.


A Game for Swallows: To Die, To Leave, To Return by Zeina Abirached, translated from the Lebanese by Edward Gauvin. In this graphic novel memoir, Zeina is used to the civil war, as it has been raging her entire life. But, one night, her parents don't return and the violence comes closer and closer to home. Her neighbors wait up with Zeina and her brother as they wait for morning.

That Mad Game: Growing Up in a Warzone: An Anthology of Essays from Around the Globe edited by JL Powers. This collection of essays, written by people who survived wars in their childhood covers such conflicts as WWII, Bosnia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and Iran.

Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat. This memoir starts when Barakat is detained on a bus trip home to Ramallah and then flashes back to her early childhood during the 6-day War and its aftermath. Barakat's story is engaging and helps shed light on the current issues in the MidEast and is filled with a longing for peace.


Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang. This double-book set tells both sides of China's Boxer Rebellion. Little Bao is sick of missionaries and warlords terrorizing the Chinese countryside, so he uses the powers of Chinese gods to recruit a kung-fu army of commoners. Crazily, they almost win. Four-Girl has found a purpose, and a real name, in her faith. But the Boxers are killing all Christians-- not just the foreign ones.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. One day Ishmael, age 12, goes to town with some friends. While there, he village is attacked and his family flees. He never sees them again. He and his friends run from the war-- trying to stay in front of the fighting so they don't get caught, don't get killed. Still, a group of boys traveling together is a thing to be feared. Eventually, Ishmael is caught and forced to join the army fighting against the rebels in Sierra Leone. He's given massive amounts of drugs, a gun, a little bit a training, food, and a hatred and desire to kill the people who killed his family. Written for adults, this is one with high teen appeal. Although the content skews it for older teens, Beah was much younger when he lived it.

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins. Two Burmese boys, one a Karenni refugee and the other the son of an imprisoned Burmese doctor, meet in the jungle and in order to survive they must learn to trust each other.


Kipling's Choice by Geert Spillebeen, translated from the Flemish by Terese Edelstein. When war breaks out in Europe in 1914, Rudyard Kipling is one of the loudest voices calling for British involvement. When England joins, he leads the recruitment calls. It breaks his and his son's hearts that John's poor eyesight means he cannot be in the first wave, especially as his friends keep going over. He still feels this way even as his friends start dying. Rudyard pulls every string he can to get his son a commission. John's first battle is also his last. This heart-breaking tale is framed as his life flashes before him somewhere in Belgium. Based on a true story.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. Rose is an American pilot who ferries planes from England to France, until she's captured by Nazis and sent to Ravensbruck, a horrific women's concentration camp. This is a companion novel to Code Name Verity.

Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal by Mal Peet. After her grandfather commits suicide, Tamar is left with his box of parachute silks, with code written on them, plus some other objects from his time in WWII. The story bounces between her and her grandfather in WWII, when he was with the Dutch resistance, him, his best friend, and the girl they were both in love with. Trapped in Nazi-occupied Netherlands, they get information out, and receive information. But the tension and fear soon take its devastating toll. Seriously guys, one of my favorite books of all time.

What are your must-reads about war? How will you be celebrating International Peace Day?

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