Book Review: A Foreign Field

Reading Level

Ages 13-18

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• World War II

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This book is a wonderful historical fiction covering the World War II years. Specifically, the book follows the courtship of two young people in Canada: a British pilot and a young Canadian girl.

Through the use of letters, dreams, and well-paced narrative, author Gillian Chan presents an entertaining and realistic view of what life was like for young people during the War.

The connection between pilot and schoolgirl gives a side-by-side glimpse of both military and homefront goings-on. Stephen, the young pilot who lies about his age in order to be accepted, is a mixture of confidence and nervousness, courage and fear of nightmares. Ellen, the young girl who doesn't know what she feels about her "friend" Stephen, is a new-thinking girl who wants to keep on going to school and go to college, so she can become a teacher, although her father wants her to get a job and help in the war effort.

Through the use of these plot devices, the author expertly mixes historical fiction and historical fact. The characters breathe, think, and feel. They come alive, against the backdrop of the terrible War.

With just the right mix of humor and sadness, mirth and melancholy, Gillian Chan has created a winner in A Foreign Field. If I had to list a complaint, it would be that the ending comes too soon and a little unexpectedly. Even this, though, is a lesson in history, as what happens to the couple in the end is not what you might expect.

This book is definitely a winner for teen-agers and others who want to learn about World War II, the war front and the homefront.


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