First thing to say is - this book is written for children, or young adults but it is worthy of reading by those of us who are somewhat older. It is set in 1941 near to Newcastle on Tyne during the German blitz of English towns. Peter is the 12 year old central character the son of the village gamekeeper who has been evacuated from Dunkirk and moved straight on to the desert war in North Africa. Peter and his mum live in a small village near the coast. His best mate is tomboy Kim, a doctor's daughter evacuated from Newcastle to her aunt's house in the village. Their adventure begins when a German bomber crashes in the fields above the village and Peter is there when the plane comes down, but there is a glimpse of at least one parachute and it seems a German may have survived the devastating crash.
The young pair discover a German airman and it is what happens next which is the meat of the story. It is an emotional and exciting read for people of all ages with many challenges set before Peter and Kim and us. It is a case of - what would you do? The characters are all very well portrayed and the emotional telling of the tale is neither mawkish or schmaltzy. The practical life of rationing, Anderson shelters and loved ones in peril at home and fighting abroad are the background to the adventure story. It reminds me of the books I used to read when I was 12 and I recommend it highly.
The first books I read by Dan Smith were written with a different audience in mind, two very different adult thrillers but both great reads The Child Thief & Dark Horizons
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!
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.
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.
This book is an amazing book to read Any place, any time. I highly recommend this book to children(like me) from ages 10-15! The reason it loses a star is because it is similar to the book written by Michael Morpurgo: Friend Or Foe.