Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bertie's War - A Review

Product: Bertie's War - A Novel

Price: $7.99

Author: Barbara Blakely

Publisher: Kregel Publications

Where to Buy:
Kregel's Website

Brief Overview:

From the publisher - Everything has been going wrong for Bertie lately.
No matter how hard she tries to do and say the right thing, Bertie keeps tumbling into embarrassing--and sometimes dangerous--situations. Her stern father has too many rules, her know-it-all sister won't stop teasing her, and her mischievous younger brother keeps getting into trouble. But what makes her really afraid are those Communist missiles pointed right at the U.S. As Bertie starts seventh grade in the fall of 1962, news of these missiles throws the nation into a panic and Bertie suddenly feels completely out of control. Can Bertie confront an ugly truth about herself and face her fears--once and for all?

In-Depth Look:

I received "Bertie's War" to read and review. I wasn't familiar with the author or the publishing company, so I didn't know what to expect. As I love to read Christian novels, I looked forward to reading the book.

"Bertie's War" is written by Barbara Tifft Blakey. Ms. Blakey is the author of Total Language Plus, a literature-based program designed to master language arts skills and develop a Biblical perspective. She is a nationally-known speaker at private schools, Christian ladies' groups, homeschooling conventions and support groups.
"Bertie's War" is her first novel. It is available from Kregel Publications.

Kregel Publications is an evangelical publisher with a mission statement to "develop and distribute with integrity and excellence trusted biblically based resources that lead individuals to know and serve Jesus Christ." They have hundreds of titles available.

"Bertie's War" is set in the fall of 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War. This novel is an historical work of fiction, focusing on many of the details of that time period. The constant news reports about the stand-off with the Communist government of the Soviet Union and the threat of missiles being fired from Cuba were an everyday part of life in 1962. Schools had air-raid drills. Families built bomb shelters and stockpiled supplies, hoping to somehow survive in the event of nuclear fallout. People tried to somehow find a way to carry on with their lives, while living with this ever-present possibility of danger.

It was interesting to read of this time period, because it was the era that my parents grew up in. I never thought much about the fact that this was their way of life for a time. I also find it relevant now. As once again we try to carry on with our normal lives, with the horrific memory of 9/11 in our memories and the threat of terrorism as a new part of our life.

The main character is a young girl named Roberta "Bertie". She is 12 and in the 7th grade. Bertie suffers from immobilizing fears. Fear of the Cuban Missile Crisis, her father, her grandfather, standing up to people when she knows they are wrong, defending people when she knows they are right. She feels that the world and her life are out of control. She lives in fear of something "bad" happening, whether it might be nuclear fall-out or not having her father's approval. To try to maintain order, Bertie is very big on following the rules and when that doesn't work, she uses her imagination to escape to other worlds where she is in control of the situation. To quote Bertie:
"Did everyone sometimes break rules? Was everyone afraid sometimes? Maybe it was a matter of how to deal with fear than not having fear. Rules helped me control my fear; they forced order. But fear ruled me, regardless of the rules I followed."

I found Bertie to be an interesting character. It made me stop and think. Are children more affected by fear than adults are? We, adults, are forced to continue on with our daily spite of the uncertainty all around us. Life becomes a "new normal". But what about our children? Are they suffering silently, unsure of how to deal with dangers of the world, whether real or just perceived? How has 9/11 and the threat of terrorism affected our youth? Has it shaken their sense of security?

Bertie reminded me of myself in ways. As I also get angry at myself when I let fear rule me. It is a frustrating battle to fear things. But an even more frustrating battle to fear things that you feel you have no control over.

This novel was an interesting read. I found myself eager to continue reading to find out what would happen at different parts in the story. I will admit that there were times that Bertie frustrated me to no end; I wished that I could grab her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. But remember that she is only 12 and still trying to make sense of herself and her family. She is still trying to define her relationship with God. And she is living in a scary time with many uncertainties.

This book is written for the preteen age group. But I would suggest that you read it first and then decide if it is appropriate for your child. Some of the topics might be difficult for a child of that age to process on their own. It would be a good read-aloud, where you can discuss the issues with your child as you progress through the story.

To read the reviews of my crewmates, click here.

Disclaimer: I received "Bertie's War" free of charge to review, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, this is Barbara Blakey, the author of Bertie's War. Thank you for reviewing this book, my first attempt at fiction. I care what readers think and your comments are insightful and encouraging. Again, thank you.