I feel rather smug that I enjoyed this book as much as I did. Nobody suggested it to me, I just got it on my own. Then I liked it. The Children’s War is all about two kids in Europe during the second World War – Ilse, living in Germany and Morocco and France, whose father is Jewish and who really just wants to get back to her mother; and Nicolai, who doesn’t like the Hitler Youth and becomes friends with his nursemaid who is Ilse’s mother.
Though both stories were interesting, I found Ilse’s to be the more compelling, as she was a character who took action, mainly because her life didn’t leave her any other options. As she tries to get back to her mother, she becomes increasingly responsible for her father, who won’t do anything to get them to safety. Charlesworth writes so easily from Ilse’s point of view that you don’t notice at first how negligent her father is being of her, because Ilse is too young to think it herself; and then when someone comes around and points it out, you’re like, Oh hey. Yeah he is being negligent. Sheesh. Eventually Ilse joins the Resistance. It’s very brave of her. And, um, Nicolai gets bombed in Hamburg. I thought more was going to happen with Nicolai, but it was essentially just being nice to Ilse’s mother and not liking the Hitler Youth. Oh well.