When the War Came Home

When the War Came Home
Lesley Parr
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Lesley Parr has written another wonderful story, again set in Wales. It’s an enthralling look at the impact of the first world war on a mother and her daughter, Natty who acts as narrator.

The girl is absolutely furious when her outspoken mother announces over supper that she’s lost her job and that the two of them will have to leave home to live with relations. Four days later, they’ve packed their bags and are moving in with her aunt, uncle and family on their smallholding in another Welsh valley.

Nothing is the same, school in particular, but Natty has to confront the terrible after effects of the war both on her cousin Huw (who faked his age in order to fight) and on Johnny who is at the local hospital for ex-soldiers. Huw suffers from terrors at the sound of loud bangs and grief at the loss of his best friend, while Johnny doesn’t even remember who he is.

Natty determines to help both these young men and there’s also a mystery for her (and readers) to unravel. Added to that she finds another cause to champion and decides that some causes are most definitely worth fighting for: perhaps she’s not quite so different from her mother after all.

This is a gripping tale for older readers, told with great sensitivity and superb characterisation that gives some insights into both the longer term impacts of war and of poverty, both of which are just as relevant today as they were back then.

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