This week's Wednesday Wonders features
by A. L. Sowards
Eight years after immigrating to the United States, German-born Lukas Ley embodies the American dream: successful athlete, gorgeous girlfriend, loving family. But beneath the surface, eighteen-year-old Lukas is driven by ambition, resolved to avenge the murder of his father at the hands of the Nazi regime. Unfortunately, a failed physical throws his plans for flight school off course. Unlike his war-hero older brother, Lukas’s purpose is unclear. He can’t fly, and in the eyes of the military, he’s good for only one thing—the front lines.
My Book Review:
I have always enjoyed the books written by A. L. Sowards about World War I and World War II. This one was no exception. It seemed slightly different than the others. Written in first person, Defiance seems less of an action-adventure story set in wartime and more of a journey into the heart and soul of a young man from when he eagerly looks forward to graduating from high school so he can join in the battle against Nazi Germany, through his actual experiences as a soldier, and until he is returned home.
Born in Germany, but brought to the United States as a child, Lukas has a desire for revenge against Hitler and his Nazi government that he blames for the death of his father, a man who wrote in protest of the rise of National Socialism in his native land. Lukas’s lofty dreams of how he wanted to participate were crushed. He ended up being assigned to what he thought was the least desirable manner to engage the enemy. He ended up in the infantry, a ground soldier considered “cannon fodder.” Nevertheless, he was willing to do what it took to defeat Nazism. He soon found himself willing to do things he never thought he could or would do to save both his friends and himself.
Without realizing it, the company to which he was assigned was in an area thought to be “quiet.” It ended up becoming the center of action in what we know today as the Battle of the Bulge. When Lukas joined his squadron, the men already there ignored him. He soon came to the conclusion he was on his own and no one cared about him. As he gradually proved his worth, and demonstrated he was not going to get himself killed the first few days in combat, he soon developed a close working relationship and position of trust among fellow soldiers. This is a frequent situation in combat situations where men see so many of their buddies get killed or seriously wounded they build a protective shield around their emotions by trying to not care about newcomers. The author did a great job of not only showing what happened, but demonstrating its effect on the characters.
I thought the author did a wonderful job as she took us on the journey into the mental, emotional and spiritual responses of Lukas and his comrades as they faced death of their fellow soldiers, difficult battle situations, surrender, experiences as prisoners of war, the additional torture at the hands of a Nazi guard Lukas faced because of his nativity, and illness.
One of the most daunting challenges Lukas faced was wrestling with his own conscience after the war was over. Although his faith in God got him through many difficult times, the horror of war took its toll and left him feeling unworthy of God's love and forgiveness for some of the choices he made. The author’s message regarding this was powerful.
The story was well-written and kept me interested from beginning to end. Although not primarily a romance, what romance elements the book contains are sweet and clean. The language is clean. The action is intense. I recommend this book.
Purchase links for Defiance:
Barnes & Noble | Deseret Books | Amazon
A.L. Sowards grew up in Moses Lake, Washington, then came to Utah to attend BYU and ended up staying. Now she’s a busy mom with young kids, but she does her best to squeeze writing time in between naptime, stroller rides, and homework sessions. She enjoys reading, writing, learning about history, and eating chocolate, sometimes all at once. As an author, she is known for heart-pounding action, memorable characters, careful historical research, clean romance, and family-friendly language. Prior to The Spider and the Sparrow, which was set during World War One, Sowards wrote four novels set during the Second World War, including two Whitney Award finalists. Once again, she writes about the Second World War.
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