Review Blog

Aug 23 2011

Harry's war by John Heffernan

cover image

Omnibus, 2011. ISBN 978 1 86291 9273.
(Ages 10+)War. Harry idolises his grandfather and spends a great deal of time with him listening to his seemingly endless stories of war and his involvement in Malaysia during WW2. His beloved grandfather fills him with stories of the glory of war, and keeps reminding Harry of his being a chip off the old block, and about how ready he is to follow in the family footsteps. When his teacher asks Harry to see if is grandfather will talk at the school, Harry is very keen for this to happen. His father died when he was three, and until now, the family has spoken little of the man whom Harry barely remembers but still speaks to when going to bed at night. Photos of him in uniform fill the small photograph album that Harry keeps near his bed. But things come to a head when Harry's friend asks what his father died of. The story of cancer does not add up when the man in the last photograph is looking so healthy and strong. The question brings the truth, but there is more to the truth than meets the eye, so when Harry goes to ask his grandfather, the local television crew is there, and Harry innocently tells them of his grandfather's heroic actions.
A fascinating story of how war affects families, Heffernan has again created a tale that rings with truth. The relationship between Harry and his grandfather is based on a lie and it is this lie that both must contend with before their relationship can be repaired. But Harry proves that he too can be a hero, not one who must talk about what happened but one who knows within himself what a real hero is and should be.
Fran Knight

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