Friday, 11 October 2013

Cross My Heart by Carmen Reid

Carmen Reid, who is more popularly known for her chick lit novels has made an excellent departure from her usual genre.  Here she has written an historical novel for young adults which is packed full with excitement, danger and is also touchingly moving.

Nicole de Wilde, known to her family and friends as Nico, is 15 when the Nazi’s invade Brussels in 1940.   She is a naive and innocent teenager who is forced to grow up very quickly in response to her circumstances.  A tenacious young woman who learn that she is not too young to stand up for what she believes.  Joining a group of freedom fighters we see her grow from a child to a desperately determined young woman whose personal resolve will be her greatest weapon.

The character of Nicole is what make this book work so well.  A good, well-rounded character I found myself rooting for her on every page.  Her journey is a tough one and Reid paints a realistic picture of Nicole’s maturation.  Based on real life stories of teenagers involved in Resistance activities the author has paid tribute to these young heroes and heroines of the Belgian Resistance through the character of Nicole.

There is no let up in the action packed pages in this book.  However, it is also touchingly moving and I could feel her emotions leap off the page through the often-times, horrendous situations that she finds herself in.  One small sentence which has stuck in my mind is when she says, “ I cry because no one can bear to see their father cry.”  Bearing in mind all that Nicole has gone through up to this point in the novel it is so often the small matters that weaken our strength and I loved Nicole all the more for this realistic emotion.

The Afterword in the book, My Grandparents’ War, describes the wartime experiences of the authors grandparents, one of whom was English and the other German.  This personal faceted viewpoint has enabled her to write a well-rounded story.

We are all familiar with novels centred around WWII and the ensuing atrocities which took place but I believe that this book brings something new to our knowledge-base through the eyes of the young people of the Belgian Resistance.  This is a story of immense heroism and hope and is well worth reading.

ISBN:  978-0-552-56701-5

Published by:  Corgi Books

Book Price:  £6.99 (paperback).
This was sent to me as a review copy from Random House Publishing.

 Total saving so far:  £6.99

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