What can a person do to be considered a war hero? Do they have to save someone else’s life? Do they have to give up their life? Do they do something so extraordinary for someone else that ‘hero’ is the only term fitting enough to describe that person?
To Tessa’s desolate town, Gideon Thrall is that hero. For Tessa’s entire existence, her town has been at war. One thousand six hundred thirty two! No, that is not the year this book takes place. That is the number of dead, all at the hands of Gideon in his most recent battle. He is an academy trained pilot who drops bullets and heavy artillery on the neighboring enemy towns. He is the war hero that, when the novel opens, is set to receive the highest medal awarded a military personnel. The town has gathered to honor Gideon, however, he bolts from the stage saying he’s a coward. Everyone else is just attributing his behavior to possible post- traumatic stress disorder that many who have battled in a war have a tendency to exhibit, but not Tessa. She lives next to Gideon and grew up with him. She comes to his defense with neighbors and even his own mother, but not because Gideon asked her too. Gideon’s condition deteriorates to the point where he escapes by burrowing a hole in the wall through the apartments. Tessa follows the make shift labyrinth only to see from a distance that Gideon is in trouble and in need of her help.
A stowaway, a meddlesome neighbor and a rogue soldier weave quite an interesting, life changing discovery in The Always War by Margaret Peterson Haddix. A fast exciting and exhilarating read.
Review by Andrea, CLP-Homewood