Thursday, June 9, 2016
Review: Everyone Brave Is Forgiven
Chris Cleave excels at bringing the major and the minor moments and concerns into the same story. Obviously, this is a story about the effects of war on both soldiers and civilians. Mary and Tom and Alastair have to grapple with what it means to be a good person (and if it's even worth it to be one) when death is indiscriminately everywhere. When most of London's children are sent to the countryside, Mary fights to teach the students left behind. This gives her new insight into what it means to be seen as a less desirable person, as the children left behind are the ones who are disabled or aren't white. It was interesting and disturbing to see how the people in Mary's life reacted to her teaching and becoming invested in the lives of these unwanted children. Mary is perhaps the character who develops the most throughout this book. She starts as a girl looking to defy her parents and be seen as glamorous as she assists the war effort. But we see her slowly realize just how to care for others and put them before herself.
We see the terror and heartbreak of war in moments both big and small; Allistar has almost made it back to base with a fellow soldier when his companion steps on landmine and Mary is distraught as she sits in a schoolroom that should be full of children and realizes that they have been robbed of both their education and their childhood. This story is incredibly tense throughout. I had moments of real fear for all three of the main characters, which defies everything we think we know about novels.
Everyone Brave Is Forgiven is both incredibly specific and stunningly universal. How do we as humans continue to live when our world is literally falling down around us? Do we risk ourselves for others or try to stay safe? Where is the time to have a breakdown and grieve your losses when another raid or battle is just hours away? What is left of ourselves and our countries after the war is over?
Everyone Brave Is Forgiven
By Chris Cleave
Simon and Schuster May 2016
Read via Netgalley