I know the old saying don’t judge a book by its cover. I also know that it isn’t meant specifically for books…but, I judged this book, When We Were Young and Brave by Hazel Gaynor, by its cover.
It looked like historical fiction. With the planes, I guessed it might be WWII-related. It was. I guessed it was likely in a foreign country…it was.
I ended up liking the book a lot. I learned about a different aspect of WWII that I previously had never thought of. The story takes place in China. Missionary families were there when war broke out and Japan captured China. This story told what happened to some of those families…specifically the children of the families who were at a boarding school.
The story was a coming of age in a war book…A coming age book for both of the main characters in the book.
Here is what Amazon had to say:
“China, December 1941. Having left an unhappy life in England for a teaching post at a missionary school in northern China, Elspeth Kent is now anxious to return home to help the war effort. But as she prepares to leave China, a terrible twist of fate determines a different path for Elspeth and those in her charge.
Ten-year-old Nancy Plummer has always felt safe at Chefoo School, protected by her British status. But when Japan declares war on Britain and America, Japanese forces take control of the school, and the security and comforts Nancy and her friends are used to are replaced by privation, uncertainty, and fear. Now the enemy, and separated from their parents, the children look to their teachers – to Miss Kent and her new Girl Guide patrol especially – to provide a sense of unity and safety.
Faced with the relentless challenges of oppression, the school community must rely on their courage, faith, and friendships as they pray for liberation – but worse is to come when they are sent to a distant internment camp where even greater uncertainty and danger await . . .
Inspired by true events, When We Were Young and Brave is an unforgettable novel about impossible choices and unimaginable hardship, and the life-changing bonds formed between a young girl and her teacher in a remote corner of a terrible war.”
Amazon readers gave the book 4.6 stars. I’d say 4.4. I really liked the book and would very much recommend it.
In writing this review I found that I had read other books by the same author, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter and The Girl Who Came Home. If you’re going to read only one…I suggest the one I am reviewing in this blog post. If you’re interested, you can find the book HERE.
4 thoughts on “What I’m Reading: When We Were Young Brave”
This is an excellent book. It is well written, and the story stuck with me after I finished reading it.
Tell us more about Transfer Ease that you mentioned in your post the other day. What is it and how do you use it? Love reading your blog!
This sounds like an interesting story. It strikes a chord in me because it reminds me of Eric Liddell (of “Chariots of Fire” fame), a Chinese born son of Scottish missionaries, who also served as a missionary in China right at the time this book was set. In fact, he also ended up in a Japanese internment camp, like the characters in this book. Sadly, he died there, just months before the camp was liberated by American troops. I have a book, written by someone who was also in the same internment camp, who wrote of his experience there. It also makes for very interesting reading, and makes you realise how blessed we are to have never gone through anything like this.
I share your choices of covers. Lately I read a book I think you recommended about the nurses in Philippines during WWII. In the author’s notes I read about a book “All This Hell- Imprisoned by the Japanese” by Evelyn M Monahan & Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee. WOW!!! Not a novel but the actual recounting by the POW nurses. I think you would enjoy it. My library ordered it from their CIRCUIT system.
It certainly impressed me. I have read a lot of WWII novels but this blew me away.