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Author: Berry, Julie
In the perilous days of World Wars I and II, the gods hold the fates -- and the hearts -- of four mortals in their hands. They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect-turned-soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story, as told by goddess Aphrodite to her husband, Hephaestus, and her lover, Ares, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals that, though War is a formidable force, it's no match for the transcendent power of Love.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: UG
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: 14.0 Quiz: 501611
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 9-12
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: 23.0 Quiz: 77772
School Library Journal (00/03/19)
Booklist (+) (03/01/19)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 03/01/2019 Gr 7 Up—The Greek gods relate the tale of how four young people's fates collide in a love story for the ages. Caught by Hephaestus in an compromising position with Ares, the god of War, Aphrodite is put on trial by her husband in a Manhattan hotel. World War II is waging, but the goddess of Love hearkens back to the first World War to present the romantic epic tale of Brits Hazel (a shy pianist) and James (a reluctant soldier). Hazel follows James to the Western Front, where she meets Colette (a grieving Belgian) and Aubrey (an African American musician from Harlem). Readers will be swept away by Berry's lyrical prose, evenly paced alternating chapters, and unforgettable characters who will jump off the page and resonate with teens. Her acute attention to historical detail is supported by thorough back matter touching upon the racism and sexism of American armed forces at the time. While the conceit of meddling Greek gods sometimes borders on contrivance, the format is ultimately successful. This rumination on the costs of war, the healing power of love and music, and the inevitability of death will stay with readers and tug at their hearts. VERDICT A must where historical fiction and Berry's previous titles are popular.—Shelley M. Diaz, BookOps: The New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 03/01/2019 *Starred Review* Love and war. They’ve been inextricably intertwined in literature since Helen of Troy’s face launched a thousand ships. And just as the Greek goddess Aphrodite had a hand in that mash-up of desire and havoc, so is she also on the front lines in Julie Berry’s sweeping historical novel, which begins in 1942. A stylish couple can barely keep their hands off each other as they take an elevator up to their hotel room—where the woman's husband awaits. But this is no ordinary trio. They are revealed to be Aphrodite, Ares, and Aphrodite’s long-suffering (very long-suffering) husband, Hephaestus, god of forges and fire, who entraps the adulterers in a gold mesh net. Aphrodite tells Hephaestus he knows nothing of love, but she can show him what it looks like. Taking a page from yet another literary figure, Scheherazade, Aphrodite takes the whole night to spin a story that wraps her relationship with Ares, the god of war, around the story of four lovers who meet during WWI: James Alderidge, on his way to the front; Hazel Windicott, a pianist, who has a few days to fall in love with him; Colette Fournier, a young Belgian woman whose family has all been killed by the Germans; and Aubrey Edwards, a Black soldier, in France to both play jazz with an infantry band and fight for America. In hands less skilled than Berry's, this multifaceted novel might easily have spun out of control. Mixing Greek gods (Hades and Apollo also join their fellow Olympians as the story unspools), the brutally described horrors of war, the tenderness of love, and the evils of racism, in both its blatant and insidious forms, seems more than one book can handle. Yet Berry is her own Scheherazade, mesmerizing us with intertwined tales that describe the depths of suffering and the sweetness of love with remarkable intensity and naturalness. This is one of those books in which readers will feel that they are in it together with all the story's characters. In fact, it is one of Berry's real triumphs that she manages to give nearly equal weight to a large cast of very different characters. James' evolution from a lighthearted young man to a cruelly hardened soldier would seem to have much more depth to it than the story of Hazel, a shy musician. Similarly, Aubrey, spared death when white soldiers mistake his friend for being the Black soldier stepping out with Colette, and who endures both the hell of war and the injustice of having his accomplishments denigrated, is the kind of character who could easily dominate. And, yet, Berry's portrait of the friendship forged between Hazel and Colette, as they spend the war in France as volunteers, waiting to learn the fates of their loves, though a quieter part of the tale, emerges every bit as forcefully and meaningfully as the more dramatic stories.This is not particularly a young adult book. Every emotion, description, and literary sleight-of-hand could just as easily be in an adult novel. And that is one of Berry's greatest strengths. She just writes. All of her young adult novels have been different from one another, from fantasy to religious drama. This one is heavily researched, as Berry explains in her author's notes, which detail how much of the framework is based on facts, whether it be the stories of Black servicemen in WWI or the particulars of the weapons used in the war or the roles of women on the home front. But all that detail folds effortlessly into the story, so uncommon in frame but heartbreakingly familiar in emotion. Lovely War proves again that Berry is one of our most ambitious writers. Happily for us, that ambition so often results in great success. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.