I always say I don’t pick up too many WWII books anymore unless they have a unique take. Well, this one blew me out of the water. It is set in the Philippines during and after the Bataan Death March, which I don’t think I was ever taught about in history class. Just mesmerizing.
BOOK DESCRIPTION (FROM AMAZON)
Jimmy Propfield joined the army for two reasons: to get out of Mobile, Alabama, with his best friends Hank and Billy and to forget his high school sweetheart, Claire.
Life in the Philippines seems like paradise–until the morning of December 8, 1941, when news comes from Manila: Imperial Japan has bombed Pearl Harbor. Within hours, the teenage friends are plunged into war as enemy warplanes attack Luzon, beginning a battle for control of the Pacific theater that will culminate with a last stand on the Bataan Peninsula and end with the largest surrender of American troops in history.
What follows will become known as one of the worst atrocities in modern warfare: the Bataan Death March. With no hope of rescue, the three friends vow to make it back home together. But the ordeal is only the beginning of their nearly four-year fight to survive.
How do I do justice to this amazing book? I’m not sure I can, but I will try. I would say that mere words can’t express such deep emotions as those that are conveyed in this book, but that’s not true because Marcus Brotherton and Tosca Lee did just that, and then some.
The bond of four friends seems unbreakable, as we flash back and forth between Jimmy’s childhood and his service in World War II. Jimmy, Claire, Billy, and Hank grew up together. Only Claire is left behind as Jimmy, Billy, and Hank go off to war. Jimmy really enlisted because he is trying to forget his ex-girlfriend Claire, who has moved on. The three young men are stationed in the Philippines, and life is pretty uneventful until December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. It is not long before the Philippines is attacked too, and the three friends become prisoners of war.
Marcus Brotherton and Tosca Lee do a completely remarkable job of relating the torture, starvation, and psychological cruelty the Japanese inflicted on the American prisoners of war in the Philippines. This is a truthful, realistic, and bloody tale that the reader won’t soon forget. This is the first book I’ve read about the Bataan Death March, but I was transported there, and I could see Jimmy and his friends trudging along, starving, mad with thirst, and knowing that if they fell down they would never get up again.
When they arrive at a concentration camp, they stand out because of their strong bond, and the commander does something even more despicable that sends Jimmy and Hank on a desperate mission to save a life.
As we watch Jimmy trying to survive, we also flash back to his childhood, and Claire is a huge part of this story. The families of all three young men come alive as we watch them grow up, each with their own private struggles.
This book is full of pain, love, loss, misery, and hope. It is one I will not soon forget.
My rating for this is 5.5, because the one category where a book can score higher than five is “How did it make me feel?,” and that one is off the charts.
I received a free copy of this book from Revell via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and the opinions expressed are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Marcus Brotherton is a New York Times bestselling author and coauthor dedicated to writing books that inspire heroics, promote empathy, and encourage noble living.
His commendations include the Christopher Award for literature “that affirms the highest values of the human spirit.”
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Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of twelve novels including THE LONG MARCH HOME (with New York Times bestselling author Marcus Brotherton) THE LINE BETWEEN, THE PROGENY, THE LEGEND OF SHEBA, and ISCARIOT. Her work has been translated into seventeen languages and been optioned for TV and film. She is the recipient of two International Book Awards, Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion, ECPA Book of the Year, and the Nebraska Book Award, and has finaled for numerous others including the Library of Virginia People’s Choice Award, the High Plains Book Award, a second Silver Falchion, and the Christy. When she’s not writing, Tosca loves binging television shows, looking for something good to eat, cooking when she can’t find it, traveling with her husband, and sleeping in.
You can find Tosca on social media or hanging around the snack table. To learn more, please visit toscalee.com.
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