Tomorrow When the War Began
by John Marsden
Tackling questions of war, morality, friendship, and good and evil, Tomorrow When the War Began is a well-written young adult book that explores issues that matter in this (and every) generation.
It begins with a week-long camping trip in the bush in Australia. Five kids, a challenging track, and not much else planned. Things go wrong when the nation is invaded, a fact which the kids only discover upon their return from what they had previously thought of as an adventure. Their camping trip is quickly put into perspective as they face the realities of death, violence, and loss.
Only one of the characters in the story is overtly portrayed as a Christian, and so the novel does not purport to be a "Christian view" of the issues raised. It is, however, clearly written from the perspective of one for whom Christianity is a major part of the received worldview in her culture, and the question of the role faith should/does play in determining our beliefs about these issues is one of the recurring threads in the story.
Marsden does a good job of creating a believable teenaged world, and he lets the kids in the story work through their questions and struggles. While they do seem to draw some conclusions, they are clearly not simply attempts to offer simplistic answers to complex problems. The novel recognizes that there are no easy answers, and it addresses the questions in an appropriately complex manner, while keeping it all very readable and engaging.
Reviewed by Shelly Bryant @ 2011