Sunday 1 February 2015

Review on 'Our Wild and Precious Lives'

When their father is stationed at a base in Werteim, Tom and Melly Mcarron must adapt to their new temporary home in 1960 Cold War Germany. Although apprehensive about leaving their American home, Tom and Melly create strong bonds of love and friendship with the other teenagers on base, something that the majority of the teens parents have never truly known. However, tensions in Berlin are rising, and with the construction of the Berlin wall, the teenagers worry that this will bring about a third World War. With an abusive father who served in World War II and the Korean war, and a war bride mother, Tom and Melly struggle to find a love that their parents never had, and hope to find some sort of stability in their ever changing lives.

I loved that this novel was set during the Cold War and found the setting interesting. Tom and Melly are both likable characters, and their bond of pure unconditional love for each other is something you don't often find between fictional siblings.I loved Melly's feistiness, but also thought she was quite spoilt at times, such as when she complained to her mother about the dress she had made for her looking too similar to her friends. The siblings don't get on with their parents, with their father often physically abusing Tom and their mother doing nothing to stop it, so I felt that his strong bond with Melly was important, as she is the only person he can truly talk to about it.

Although I disliked their father, I loved reading the back story provided for him, as it showed that he was once not as heartless as he seemed to be in the present day. I also love reading war stories, so I enjoyed reading about his time fighting in World War II. I also enjoyed that his time in the Korean war was mentioned, as novels often focus on the World Wars, but not lesser known ones such as the Korean war.

I immediately loved LJ, an army brat living on the same base as Tom and Melly. I felt that he was an important friend to Melly, and I loved that although he had romantic feelings for Melly, he never tried to force a relationship, and remained a loyal friend to her even after she started to date Wes. I initially disliked Wes, but warmed up to him when it became clear that he genuinely did like Melly, and wasn't just carrying out his fathers orders. I felt that Wes was a brave character, and I loved that he ended up defying his father and not allowing him to control his life.

Although I loved most of the characters, I did feel that there were too many minor characters, and often got confused over who they were when they came up. I also felt that there were too many abbreviations, as although they were all explained, I found myself forgetting what certain ones meant and having to go back to check. I loved that the book spanned over the course of three years, but I personally thought that school dances were mentioned too often. I'm not fully aware of the American high school system, so I don't know if they would truly have that many dances, but I felt that other aspects of school life could have been shown more instead, such as seeing more interaction with their school friends inside classes rather than continuous dances and sports games.

The ending of the novel was both shocking and heartbreaking, and I felt great sympathy for the pain that the characters had to endure. It definitely was not a happy ending, so I’d recommend to avoid this book if you are looking for a happily ever after. However I overall loved the book and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good YA historical novel.

Our Wild and Precious lives can be purchased HERE

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