on 29 June 2013
MY FRIEND THE ENEMY is an exciting and emotional novel set in a time of great uncertainty. The story is told during the Second World War from the perspective of 12-year-old Peter. Peter's age and innocence creates a nice balance between the seriousness and grief of war, and the fun that it brings to him and his friends.
When a German plane crashes in the countryside village where Peter lives, the residents gather around it with fear and excitement. It's here where Peter makes a new friend, Kim. Together they hunt for souvenirs among the wreckage, which results in them discovering a surviving German airman, Erik - the enemy. Peter and Kim agree to hide Erik and look after him. Their actions are completely understandable, and I loved their reasons for helping him.
Peter, Kim and Erik are very special characters, and I found myself really caring about what happened to each of them and the people they love. The friendship that develops between the three of them is truly touching.
I really enjoyed this book. Each time I put it down I wanted to pick it back up again. It's such a roller coaster journey - you just don't know what's coming next.
on 18 July 2013
I absolutely adored this book! It was recommended to me by a friend and since I'm interested the 1940s and wartime history, I bought it upon its release.
For me, no matter what genre of book, I have to care about the characters.This book does exactly that; the main character Peter is a boy you warm to straight away and his friendship with tomboy Kim is wonderfully portrayed. It's lovely to read how they still find pleasure, gratitude and hope in the simple things in life, despite the war bringing fear and loss to the country. Their relationship with 'the enemy' Erik is so innocent and beautiful; the emotions are really well written and its so easy to picture the scenes and feel a part of the book. An absolute joy to read as an adult and I'm sure children will learn a lot from this story.
I'd love to see this book also made into a television drama or film, I think the story will really capture people's hearts!
on 30 July 2013
This book opens with one of the most thrilling opening chapters I've ever read. I loved the main characters, Peter and Kit, and found the depiction of their developing friendship touching and realistic. The character of the German airman, Erik, was also skilfully drawn. The book has obviously been thoroughly researched, but the story is so well told that the historical details fit seamlessly, never getting in the way. The pace is fast and the writing vivid and exciting as the plot twists and turns all the way to the nailbiting finale. MY FRIEND THE ENEMY reminded me of a childhood favourite, Robert Swindells's THE MACHINE GUNNERS, and I'm sure young and adult readers alike will love it.
on 11 July 2013
I'm not normally one for historical war time books but this book appealed to me. I had spoken to the author, Dan Smith, quite regularly on Twitter and I was intrigued about the change from writing for adults to writing for children.
For me the cover of the book screams - boy's book! But that really isn't the case. Although the story is written in first person from Peter's point of view, you watch his strong friendship with Kim grow as the story progresses, so I know it will appeal to everyone.
I loved the detailed descriptions in this book. I felt that I could almost step into 1941. The author has really done his homework and brought the war years back to life. I'm sure while reading it, I could smell the tripe cooking. The difficulties with food and rationing were so clearly obvious and it left me wondering how as a nation we would cope if we had to return to those days. Where food is now fast and in abundance, I think we would struggle to live off such meagre portions. Not to mention digging up our landscaped gardens to fit in some home grown vegetables!
I warmed instantly to the relationship between Kim, Peter and Erik. Kim and Peter were such wonderful characters who acted with more dignity, courage and honour than the contrasting British soldiers within the book. They wanted to treat Erik in the way they hoped their loved ones would be treated while fighting abroad. Erik was a young German soldier, but he cared for Kim and Peter too. He trusted them and was prepared to abandon his hideout to save them. Throughout the book, you find yourself questioning the war, especially when you see innocents from both sides of it caught in such difficult situations. I really do think the author created some memorable characters who highlight the humane side of the war.
I believe this book would make a great accompaniment to any class studying World War 2 as it gives such an insight into what life was really like during such hard times. It has elements of Whistle Down The Wind in it, although the lines are blurred as to whether Erik could be considered a criminal. To me, it felt as though he was another innocent person fighting someone's else war.
If you love books such as Goodnight Mr Tom, I'm sure you will enjoy this.
on 9 July 2014
This beautifully written this book brought alive the life of a child in rural England during the Second World War. I am instinctively drawn to books written about this war, and this book did not disappoint. Full of life, danger and adventure, I was caught up in the story and for a while actually felt I was actually there.