I love World War II novels (which is sort of ironic because I have a really hard time watching World War II movies!) I enjoy reading historical fiction and learning about different people and eras. And World War II is especially fascinating to me partly because I have a personal connection to it (as most of us probably do) since both of my grandfathers fought in this war. And partly because this war had a major impact on our country and the world as a whole.
Because Espionage is a World War II novel, I knew I wanted to read from the minute I heard about it. And it met and exceeded my expectations! It had all the elements of a great novel as well as compelling moral dilemmas which left me reflecting over it long after I finished reading.
Espionage was also full of a wide array of personalities. From the main character to the little neighbor girl, each of the characters had a story to tell and each of the stories helped to add to the historical context of the book. I especially admired Genevieve, Olivier's sister. She was spunky and just as full of patriotic fire as her brother and other members of the Resistance. Being a woman did not hold her back from participating in acts of espionage right alongside her brother. And she showed every bit as much bravery and courage as the men did.
The main character, Peter Eddy, was a member of the LDS faith which presented some interesting moral issues. He had been brought up believing that killing was wrong and yet, he must "kill or be killed" so to speak. It was thought-provoking reading about the moral dilemma that Peter and many soldiers during this time must have felt.
Peter's character did progress and grow over the course of the novel and he was even able to share these thoughts with Olivier to help him move past the hate he felt and work on forgiving others and himself.
Another thought provoking aspect of war that Espionage pointed out, was that not everything is completely "black-or-white". Most people would agree that Hitler and the Nazis were evil. However, that does not mean that all those who fought for him were. During his time in the war, Peter comes to learn this very thing and helps Genevieve to see it also.
There were also a number situations in the book where not everything was simply "black-or-white". Many people in the war were simply desperate to survive. I wondered a number of times while reading Espionage what I would have done in the same situation. Would I have had the courage to stand up for what was right and fight back? Or would I have succumbed and turned against friends and loved ones to save my own life?
Espionage is a fantastic debut from author A.L. Sowards. It is well written, with believable characters, and an exciting plot line. However, the thing that I appreciated the most about this book was the way it made me think--about war, about courage, about hate, and about forgiveness.
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