*All reviews I write are spoiler free*
This book came along to me at just the right time.
I’d just finished reading Anne Frank’s diary (review coming on Monday). I was in the mood for historical fiction. And then lo-and-behold, this book turned up for me to review.
How lucky is that? 😀
So let’s talk about Paper Boats!
Title: Paper Boats
Author: Erndell Scott
Publisher: Erich Scott Group, LLC
Series Status: Standalone
Number of Pages: 441
(Found on Goodreads)
Set in the desperate turmoil of Germany during the final chapter of World War II, “Paper Boats” by Erndell Scott is an emotionally intense, theatrical, suspense-driven read, examining the inevitable crossing of ideology, prejudice and faith amongst the chaos of a decimated post-war culture. As each character strives to find their own safety from enemies and persecution, two nine-year-old boys, Otto, of Jewish faith, and Joseph, a fanatical Hitler Youth, the most unlikely of partners, ﬁnd themselves saviors for one another. Companions cast in deep personal conflict that is entangled with deceit and betrayal, they are swept into an unforgiving journey and become bound to each other, challenging their individual perceptions of mankind, and unbeknownst to them, their very own hearts. As their journey unfolds, Otto’s hope wanes, Joseph’s hatred swells, and without warning, the steady menace of war unleashes an evil, the likes of which they have never witnessed before.
*I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review*
This is how historical fiction should be done.
It took me all of 30 pages to know that I would love this book. 30 pages, when there’s more than 400, that’s all I needed. Because right from the very first paragraph, I was impressed by the writing and imagery. It was incredible. I mean, here’s a snippet from the very first paragraph. This is how the book opens:
“Dust fills the eerie morning sky, choking any glimmer of sun as bricks – centuries old, released from their bonds – fall without course, finding their resting place upon a ravaged ground. Artillery and heavy weapons fire breathe new life into the sounds of the day while taking life as they speak. War awakens. Its foul stench is grotesque and twisted.”
Those four sentences – that’s not even the entire first paragraph – had me hooked immediately! I found it amazing how Erndell Scott managed to weave his words in a way that was so picturesque, so thorough, that I could convince myself I stood in the midst of war. Everything I’ve learnt about the war was translated into descriptions so detailed, I didn’t even have to try to imagine the scene – I would live it through the words. That’s how you know it’s a good book.
So this is the story of two young boys – one Jewish and the other a Hitler Youth – trying to survive through the war. I do admit that I was a little bit confused at times towards the beginning, as the synopsis says they’re nine years old. But the voice sounded way too old to be a nine year old. BUT it was soon made clear that a few years had passed since the beginning of the story, so while on their journey the boys are into their teens, which made much more sense. Especially with the war affecting them in such a huge way. It only made sense that their childhood was cut short, and they had to mature so quickly in order to survive.
Every so often the writing would slip from third person into first person, but only when showing one of the characters thoughts. It took me a while to catch onto this, to understand why the switch happened, as it wasn’t exactly made clear the first few times. I don’t think this is a problem with the writing though. I loved seeing small thoughts thrown in, and they definitely fit well into the text. I think it was more of a layout problem. If the thoughts were written in italics, for example, it wouldn’t have been an issue at all. It was just something I picked up on.
I was really quite impressed with the characters. Through the story you can see the change of each character, how each event that happens leaves some sort of lasting affect on them. Any changes in the relationships between characters were gradual and realistic, developing as you learn the backstories. By the end, you’re not just reading about some characters – you know them.
Now, this story isn’t for the faint-hearted, but I still feel like everyone interested in history should read it. Just think about everything you know from the war. All those horrors you’ve heard about? I can guarantee they’re in this book. There’s no sugar-coating at all. The gruesome details are included. The dangerous atmosphere is held throughout the entire book, looming over the story. The world is bleak, there’s constant tension. But it’s all accurate to the time. And while the book is about these horrors, it’s also…not. It’s about surviving them.
This is a story of love and loss, fear and hope, war and peace. This is a story that made me feel both heavy-hearted and content. This is a story that really moved me, and a story that I want more people to read.
Rated 4.5/5 stars!
[Available in Paperback and Kindle Edition]
Share your thoughts!
Have you read this book? What did you think?
If you haven’t read this book, does it sound interesting to you? Will you be adding it to your TBR?
Are there any books you’d recommend based on this review?
Let me know in the comments!
Until next time…
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