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5.0 out of 5 starsWhat a great book!
Reviewed in the United States on July 13, 2017
So much history. I felt like I was right there with Lucas the whole time. The author had the pathos and agony of war and the effect that it had on people. Great read!
This WWII story left me in awe. I can't pick up another book yet because I'm still thinking about this one!
Lukas Ley is the best American guy - he loves 1940s pop culture, football, his mom and her pies, is sweet on a girl, plus works a newspaper route and earns some money with farmwork. I LOVE how his perspective is in 1st person. It fits. He's so eager to serve for all the right reasons. And he's an average guy (especially compared to his older brother). I love him more for it!
When he's at the front lines, he meets people who have a lot more experience in war and life. I love the supporting characters in this story so much! I could feel the comraderie and dedication and understand it. Their individual stories resonate with me.
Lukas eventually becomes a POW -- and wow. He has to learn the hard way that helping others like he used to doesn't work the way it used to. Again, I love the supporting characters. The heartrending is balanced with some wins. I was glued to finding out how he and his buddies would get through each challenge. I rooted for him big time.
And the wrap up of the story, as he recovers - the physical and emotional, and the letters he receives and writes - heart wrenching and powerful. Really big life themes are handled in thoughtful ways. It left me wanting to weep for the pain of war, and also left me with the best feeling of hope. BEAUTIFULLY wrapped up. This is Sowards' best book yet, in my opinion (and some of the other ones are hard to top!). The romance is a very little subplot, but I was so invested in seeing Lukas through the war. I will be buying this in the print version - for myself and to share, plus I'll probably pick up a copy to give to a friend. I LOVED "Defiance"!
4.0 out of 5 starsThought-provoking World War II novel.
Reviewed in the United States on July 10, 2017
I have read several of A.L. Sowards' books, and she always weaves a well-written tale, with characters, events, and settings drawn with careful historical details. When I had the opportunity to receive a review copy of DEFIANCE, I took it! DEFIANCE is set near the end of World War II, and is told from the perspective of Lukas Ley. Lukas was born in Germany, but his family emigrated to America when he was ten, after his father was killed by the Nazis. Lukas is eager to join the fight against Nazi Germany, and does so as soon as he graduates from high school. The war tests and changes Lukas in ways he never anticipated.
It amazes me to realize how young these soldiers were--Lukas is eighteen as he's dodging Nazi bullets and enduring the privations and terrors of war. This is not a fast-paced book, but rather a thoughtful exploration of Lukas's journey--physical, emotional, and spiritual. It begins with his eager naivete as he enlists; it takes us through his arrival at the front where he faces constant, terrifying danger, impossible odds, the challenges of bonding with and losing friends in his unit, the physical miseries of war, and the bitter hatred of a Nazi who has singled Lukas out as representing all he's lost. It concludes with his return home after the end of the war where he must cope with what he's become and find inner peace. Through Lukas's experiences, Sowards shows us that nothing about war is quick or easy, but among the miseries of war, love, loyalty, selflessness, courage, and gritty endurance also bloom. DEFIANCE is an interesting and eye-opening read.
I have always enjoyed the books written by A. L. Sowards about World War I and World War II. This one was no exception. It seemed slightly different than the others. Written in first person, Defiance seems less of an action-adventure story set in wartime and more of a journey into the heart and soul of a young man from when he eagerly looks forward to graduating from high school so he can join in the battle against Nazi Germany, through his actual experiences as a soldier, and until he is returned home. Born in Germany, but brought to the United States as a child, Lukas has a desire for revenge against Hitler and his Nazi government that he blames for the death of his father, a man who wrote in protest of the rise of National Socialism in his native land. Lukas’s lofty dreams of how he wanted to participate were crushed. He ended up being assigned to what he thought was the least desirable manner to engage the enemy. He ended up in the infantry, a ground soldier considered “cannon fodder.” Nevertheless, he was willing to do what it took to defeat Nazism. He soon found himself willing to do things he never thought he could or would do to save both his friends and himself. Without realizing it, the company to which he was assigned was in an area thought to be “quiet.” It ended up becoming the center of action in what we know today as the Battle of the Bulge. When Lukas joined his squadron, the men already there ignored him. He soon came to the conclusion he was on his own and no one cared about him. As he gradually proved his worth, and demonstrated he was not going to get himself killed the first few days in combat, he soon developed a close working relationship and position of trust among fellow soldiers. This is a frequent situation in combat situations where men see so many of their buddies get killed or seriously wounded they build a protective shield around their emotions by trying to not care about newcomers. The author did a great job of not only showing what happened, but demonstrating its effect on the characters. I thought the author did a wonderful job as she took us on the journey into the mental, emotional and spiritual responses of Lukas and his comrades as they faced death of their fellow soldiers, difficult battle situations, surrender, experiences as prisoners of war, the additional torture at the hands of a Nazi guard Lukas faced because of his nativity, and illness. One of the most daunting challenges Lukas faced was wrestling with his own conscience after the war was over. Although his faith in God got him through many difficult times, the horror of war took its toll and left him feeling unworthy of God's love and forgiveness for some of the choices he made. The author’s message regarding this was powerful. The story was well-written and kept me interested from beginning to end. Although not primarily a romance, what romance elements the book contains are sweet and clean. The language is clean. The action is intense. I recommend this book. I was given an advanced reader’s copy of this book and I gladly volunteered to write a review.