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The Skylarks' War by Hilary McKay

January 20, 2020

 

 

Clarry Penrose is special. Her kind heart makes endlessly loving towards those around her. Her ability to see the good in everyone makes her able to always bring out the best in others, her quick wit and ability to learn allows her to create paths for herself that would be otherwise impossible for others. 


Everyone who enters Clarry's life quickly falls in step with her charm and love. That is, everyone except her father. Clarry's father doesn't seem to even acknowledge her existence. Ever since their mother died during the birth of Clarry, Clarry and her brother, Peter, have face life together on their own.


Their life was quiet and at times sad. If it wasn't for each other, and their summers away at their grandparents' house, they would have searingly become lost children. 


But their times at the grandparents' house fuel them. Not because of the loving attention of their grandparents. For that doesn't exist. Instead, their love and excitement from their summers were given to them through the adventures and fun the two have together with their older cousin, Rupert.


Together, the trio of Clarry, Peter, and Rupert was unstoppable. For if they had each other, they undoubtedly were able to face any of their life's challenges. And face life's challenges they must. 


While the three were still young, war broke out in all of Europe. Rupert quickly left his studies behind and enlisted in the army. At first, it seemed like Rupert was about to have a grand adventure. But life in the trenches and the dark realities of war soon began to creep inside of Rupert's mind and take a heavy toll.


Peter wished to do his part in the war efforts, but a childhood choice held him back. After all, the military does not wish to have someone with a bad leg enter their war efforts. To distract himself from being left behind, Peter decided to drown himself in his studies as he desperately searched for the role and purpose in his life.


Encapsulated in her loneliness, Clarry devoted her life to studying. After much convincing, she finally persuaded her father to allow her to attend a prestigious school. Clarry threw herself into her studies and life at school. Slowly, she found her stride and even pieces of independence. Through a job of her own, and new friendships, Clarry grows up and found the courage to move forward in her once quiet, and very lonely, life. 


As the war trudged on, Clarry, Peter, and Rupert's love continued to band them together. Through a series of letters and visits, the three remained imperative in the lives of one another. When Rupert went missing during the war, it was through the efforts of Clarry that her beloved cousin was located and brought home.


The story of The Skylarks' War is one that will touch your heart.  It follows the trio through the innocence of their childhood into their transitions of adulthood. You will become attached to them as their lives become complicated by the tragedies of war. You will grieve with them as they are impacted by those that come and go in their lives, and you will celebrate how their lives were forever entangled by the bonds of family. 

 

I highly recommend The Skylarks' War to any ready who loves historical fiction. Hilary McKay's ability to create such entangled characters all while building war in the background is entrancing. I adored this book from the beginning to the end. 

 
 

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