Enemy Brothers

A Story of World War II
Book cover: 'Enemy Brothers: A Story of World War II'
Constance Savery
Bethlehem Books
Number of pages: 
287 pages
Grade / Age level: 

After being very impressed with Constance Savery's insightful writing style and unique plot line in The Reb and the Redcoats, I had rather high expectations for Enemy Brothers. I wasn't disappointed in the least. This story is set in the early years of World War II (before the United States joined the Allied Forces) and tells of a young British man (Dym) whose toddler-aged brother was kidnapped from their large family ten years earlier. Dym loses both his parents within a short time of the kidnapping, but promises his mother before she dies to continue to search for little Tony. He spends many years in Germany and Switzerland looking for the boy, studying the books that his brother might be brought up on, but has to return to England when war breaks out. As an officer in the British Air Force, Dym is introduced to a young lad (Max) from Germany who has been captured and brought to England because of his pro-Nazi escapades in Norway. Known to be a real trouble-maker, his captors have a difficult time finding a place for him to live. Dym, suspecting that this is his long-lost brother (who was raised in the Nazi ideology) offers to take him home to the family estate the White Priory (fans of The Reb and the Redcoats, will recognize the same house from a different era). Although evidence mounts againts him, Max insists that he is not Tony and demands to be sent back to Germany. He lives up to his reputation for trouble by attempting numerous escapes, playing harmful pranks and even trying to spy for his home country right under their noses. The plot is thoughtful, engaging and not at all "predictable".

The story is a classic tale of the conflict between good and evil, love and hate - particularly on an intellectual level (the plane in which so many of today's moral conflicts lie). Much of Max's indoctrination is of an intellectual nature and I appreciate the fact that the good side is portrayed as fighting on God's side, despite errors of judgment in the past. The story is filled with interesting details of the time period. As I read the story, I found myself stopping frequently to comment to my husband about this or that aspect of the way things were during World War II, that I had never heard of elsewhere.

The writing quality and the beautiful way the author describes certain subtleties (such as how Max slowly discovers how different life in England is from life in Germany and how much of his beliefs about the English were simply German propaganda) are just wonderful. The thoughtfulness of the scenes in portraying some of these details makes the reading very enjoyable for adults as well as children. In some cases, as a family read-aloud, these scenes may require a little explanation for the younger children. A few tidbits made me and my husband laugh out loud which prompted the children to beg for an explanation! Overall, we have found that our children really love these opportunities to stop and talk about the story a bit and these tangents can be one of the real blessings of reading books as a family.

Although the story touches upon some intense and difficult concepts, like the Reb and the Redcoats, it is presented in such a manner as to be appropriate for a wide age range and could be used as a family read-aloud. The conflicts and relationships between the main characters of the story provide a beautiful opportunity to thoughtfully consider how our actions and example can affect the moral decisions of others. Highly recommended.

Additional notes: 

This book was donated for review by Bethlehem Books

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