When The Word Was Ours – a powerful and heart-wrenching story about war, hope and friendship
“Three friends. Two sides. One memory. Vienna. 1936.
Three young friends – Leo, Elsa and Max – spend a perfect day together, unaware that around them Europe is descending into a growing darkness, and that events soon mean that they will be cruelly ripped apart from each other. With their lives taking them across Europe – to Germany, England, Prague and Poland – will they ever find their way back to each other? Will they want to? Inspired by a true story.”
Anyone who knows me knows that a book about WW2 is ALL MY JAM. I am a massive fan of WW2 books (I don’t know why, don’t ask me, ha!) so when I was asked to be involved in this blog tour, I was on board entirely!
When The World Was Ours tells the story of three children (Max, Elsa and Leo) and how life can change, how the littlest things can happen… which then inevitably change into massive, horrific acts of segregation and eventually persecution. The story starts with quite a significant day in their lives: a day with friends, a day to remember for all three of them (who each remember it with slightly different perspective). As you go through the story, you see how the three go through their lives living and making choices out of fear, desperation and a need to be loved.
I loved that this story was told through alternating perspectives (which can be SO HARD to get right!) – you never lose sight of the story or the each individual child’s personality. Some of the moments living through the eyes of these children are really quite emotive and there was more than one time that I found myself moved (be that in anger, disbelief or sadness).
I think one of the things that historical fiction does well (and this one does really well) is give us the reality of the time and helps us to empathise with the people who lived these situations day in and day out. It was interesting to live through Max’s life – not a thing that I would EVER condone, but you see his motives and his WHY for doing what he did and you kind of go ‘yeah… I kind of get that” (we’ve all done things we shouldn’t/things we question because of our need for love/approval). There’s things in this that I think will shock and upset a lot of children, but this being about war when horrific things happened to people (who were just people), I think it’s important that it’s discussed (it lends itself quite beautifully to discussions in classrooms and homes too!)
I think something about this book that will stick with me most is that it is essentially a story about hope. It’s a story about the power of hope and about the love you can hold for people. It’s a story about how even in the depths of despair, you can find a light (and that’s a really bloody powerful message). Did it make me cry? Of course.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster for inviting me to be part of this blog tour – this is a book that will stay with me, and come into my classroom for sure! If you’re interested in getting yourself a copy of this book, why not check out Bag of Books Children’s Book Shop who are sponsoring this blog tour?!