Synopsis: When the president of the United States is impeached, but refuses to leave office, the country erupts into civil war.
10-year-old Hannah Miller, an orphan living in besieged Indianapolis, has joined a citizen’s militia. She had nowhere else to go. And after seeing the firsthand horrors of war, she’s determined to fight with the Free Women militia.
Hannah’s older brother, Alex, is a soldier too. But he’s loyal to the other side. After being separated from Hannah, he finds a home in a group calling themselves The Liberty Tree militia.
When a UNICEF worker and a reporter discover that both sides are using child soldiers, they set out to shine a light on something they thought could never happen in the United States. But it may be too late because even the most gentle children can find that they’re capable of horrific acts.
“Hannah’s family and childhood were gone, but they were always there in easy reach for her to remember. Her mind retreated deeper until they came alive again, and this new world, this horrible, cold world, faded away to nothing.”
First of all, I absolutely cannot speak about this book without mentioning the beautiful cover designed by Lisa Marie Pompilio, since that is what originally drew me in. It’s so fucking impactful, isn’t it? I can’t help but think of the old war propaganda posters when I look at it.
Also, yes I did wait for a flock of birds to fly overhead so that I could capture this one & only shot! I thought it looked like an eagle soaring above the book, which is quite fitting.
Our War is a harrowing story about children forced to fight in the second American civil war. There are several POV’s, including: Hannah Miller, a 10-year-old who watched as her mother was gunned down in front of her, finds herself joining the Free Women militia in search of somewhere to call home; Alex, Hannah’s troubled 16-year-old brother, felt like he had nowhere else to go & ends up on the other side fighting for the rebel forces; Gabrielle Justine, a French-Canadian UNICEF field operative who took a contract to help bring humanitarian aid to the US; & Aubrey, a liberal-media reporter who works for The Indy Chronicle & wants to bring attention to the fact that there are child soldiers fighting in this war.
It is difficult to succinctly capture the gamut of emotions this story evokes. I was in tears by page five. Oof. This book forces you to dive into the uncomfortability of what was, what is & what may be. It makes you confront these problems head on by throwing you into a cautionary tale that feels all too real, because clearly this is based on genuine issues in the world today. I mean.. just take a look at a newspaper. Or Twitter.
“All she’d wanted was to feel safe and serve a cause bigger than herself, a world where nobody shot people from far away or got sliced by shrapnel in the road.”
Our War is not an easy book to read. It’s not one to devour. Rather, you consume it in small increments. Conserving your energy to read on about the deplorable horrors of humanity – hate, violence, politics, loss & attempting to reclaim your life amidst conflict. It’s about survival in the face of tragedy; it’s about hope when it feels like there is no hope left.
This story is brutally intense, thought-provoking, deeply profound & incredibly important. It provides a meaningful conversation that absolutely needs to happen about a future that feels like the past. A future that isn’t so distant if we don’t do something to stop the current American political conflict. The polarizing extremes. After all, “in a civil war, everybody fights & nobody wins.”
(A big thank you to my friends over at Orbit Books for sending me a copy!)