Letters in a Different War by Joan Braddock, DayStar Books (email@example.com)
The heroine of this story, Beverley, is in her early teens. It’s 1942 and New Zealanders are suffering under the burden of World War II. Food and petrol rationing, Japanese forces threatening Australia, paranoia about spies, local men fighting and dying in North Africa: this is the background to a detailed and warm-hearted story about Beverley’s relationship with a respected teacher and neighbour – who happens to be a Conscientious Objector.
Mr Maurice is taken away and imprisoned in extremely cruel conditions in a camp. Beverley and her mother offer practical help and spiritual support to his young wife and her baby son. But as the months go by, Beverley realises that a strong spiritual belief still doesn’t give her all the answers to the difficult questions arising from Mr Maurice’s moral stand. At the heart of the story lies Beverley’s determination to understand why ordinary people can be so vindictive – and what she can do about it.
Beverley is an engaging heroine. The historical setting and the Auckland neighbourhood are vividly captured, and there are plenty of humorous moments involving the local children to lighten the serious theme.
The strong Christian tone of the story means that it will probably appeal most to readers with similar beliefs, both teenagers and adults. It will also be of value to readers who have an interest in the history of Conscientious Objectors in New Zealand.
ISBN 0 9941330 7 3 RRP $28.95 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman