I remember of what happened on that
terrible morning of Aug. 12, 1942,
on the beaches of a French town called
Dieppe. And on all the miserable days
I was very happy to receive ARCs of the first two books in this new series that act as a companion set to the Dear Canada series from Scholastic. The I Am Canada books are specifically designed to grab the attention of intermediate to middle grade young men, just as Dear Canada has done for young women. They are a fictional accounting of historical events that have impacted our Canadian lives.
In this excellent book we meet Alistair Morrison, a soldier and the diarist of this story about the Dieppe raid. Alistair is excited to share his news about enlisting as a teenager, his training for battle, and the horror of Dieppe. He survives but is made a prisoner of war, as so many were.
Hugh Brewster has done his homework concerning Dieppe and shared much of his research in a nonfiction book called Dieppe: Canada's Darkest Day of World War II. In a prologue Alistair writes a letter to his grandson concerning a video that Lachlan had made for a school project. Although loathe to discuss his wartime experiences, he had been convinced to share his story, in order that next generations would have a personal accounting of history as it unfolded and affected those living it. If not for those who tell their stories, we would never know our history.
A strong friendship between Allie and Mackie is the catalyst for enlistment in the Royal Regiment. We follow them through basic training, deployment to England and the raid itself, their capture and life in German war camps. An extended period of time is covered but Hugh Brewster retains the reader's interest with carefully constructed events and great writing. It is a compelling read, and one that will find satisfy its target audience.
The 'epilogue' is worthy of attention, written as a letter to be opened by Lachlan following Alistar's death. As it begins we learn that Allie has indeed died, leaving a written explanation about Mackie's death as a prisoner of war. The 'historical note' is rife with archival photos relating to the raid, the prisoners of war, a map of Europe. The rest of the end matter includes an extensive and very useful glossary and a note from Hugh Brewster that offers his readers the chance to know what parts of his tale are imagined.
What am amazing debut. I look forward to more!