In this riveting middle-grade novel, the story of 17-year-old Private Firestone's fight in World War II is told alongside his present-day gradual acceptance of a decision made on the battlefield, as he retraces his steps with his war-obsessed great-grandson.
Twelve-year-old Trevor Firestone is fanatical about all things war and idolizes his great-grandfather, Jacob Firestone (whom he calls G.G.), a World War II veteran. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of American soldiers liberating a French village from the Nazis, the village is honoring G.G., the sole living survivor. Not all people agree, though, that G.G. was a hero that day. In fact, one group called La Vérité floods the celebration's Facebook group with threats that G.G. isn't welcome, and Trevor swears someone is following them on their journey through France. As the day of the event nears, Trevor learns more about the truth of what happened that day and starts questioning whether this great war was as "glamorous" as he's been led to believe.
In War Stories, Gordon Korman (Restart; The Hypnotists #1; Ungifted) flawlessly switches between dual timelines to present two sides of war. The glorified event that was "vivid, exciting, even funny sometimes" is laid out in the present-day timeline that follows Trevor, his dad and G.G. as they retrace G.G.'s steps in 1944; the narrative of the past shows 17-year-old Private Firestone's real-time experience of those events. Korman's detailed account helps explain that, rather than being a "gigantic chess match," as it's often portrayed in video games and movies, war was more like a "wheel of fortune, where the difference between life and death was pure luck." The two stories parallel each other in tone, character growth and suspense, while blending together to form a cohesive narrative. --Lana Barnes, freelance reviewer and proofreader