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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Age 14 - Geert Spillbeen (Young Adult/History)

Released October 2009

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Dreams of being a soldier plague young Patrick Condon. He can't give it up, so posing as his older brother, he enlists and is accepted into the Army. After a successful stint there, he again poses as his brother in hopes of being accepted into the Royal Irish Regiment.

Age 14 shares Patrick's journey as he trains with the Special Reserves and eventually fights in World War I. Suddenly, the role he's signed into as an adult is one this child is not truly prepared for.

There are aspects I love about Age 14. The historical detail drew me into the realities of war and Ireland's history. Certain things are hard to take, but this was the way of life back then, as sad as that may seem. This story is based on factual events, so it can seem like a non-fiction offering and that may be why my attention wandered from time to time.

I would caution parents about making sure they read this novel with their child, and even then, I'd make sure your child is in his/her teens and prepared for more adult subject matter. There are some mature topics in the story, including pedophilia, sex and the very harsh, bloody realities of war. They are dealt with respectfully, but it's easy to understand what's going on. I enjoyed the historical view into the war from the perspective of a young boy, but I did find my attention wandered a little too easily at times.

While it's good, it's not great. I wouldn't hesitate to borrow it from a library, but as someone who lives on a tight budget, it's not a book I'd run out and pay $16 for. If you borrow it or find it used, it's definitely worth reading, especially if you're a history buff.

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