Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Boy at War

A Boy at War

Harry Mazer
Historical Fiction  Series
For ages 9 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2002   ISBN: 978-0689841606

Adam and his family have just moved to Honolulu. His father is an officer on the U.S.S. Arizona and is very much a spit-and-polish kind of man. He is also the kind of man who does not want his son to be seen hanging around with a Japanese boy. Adam has made friends with a Nisei boy, Davi. Davi’s parents came to Hawaii from Japan but Davi considers himself to be as American as Adam is. Being told that he can’t see Davi again is very hard for Adam.

Despite his father’s words, and feeling angry and confused about what to do, Adam goes fishing with Davi and another boy. They go down to the harbor where they find a rowboat, and just as they are settling down to fish all hell breaks loose. With horrified eyes they watch Japanese planes bomb Battleship Row. Adam sees his father’s ship being attacked watches as it lists and sinks in a poor of oil and fire. What follows is a series of nightmarish events during which Adam discovers all sorts of things about himself and others, and he is forced to come to some awful conclusions.

This touching and sometimes painful story is told through the eyes and heart of a boy who is searching for a reason for war, suffering and prejudice. Adam finds himself seeking the love and recognition of his demanding father, and he also wants to find a place for himself in the world. The backdrop for this story of an ordinary boy is  one of the most extraordinary military events in world history, an event that is both fascinating and appalling at the same time.