Official Review: The Strength of Wills by Allen Walker

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
Post Reply
User avatar
Mercy Bolo
Posts: 1061
Joined: 31 May 2017, 03:44
2018 Reading Goal: 48
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 72
Favorite Book: <a href="http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelve ... 10262">The Wisdom and Peace of the Teachings of the Tao Te Ching</a>
Currently Reading: Burn Zones
Bookshelf Size: 166
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-mercy-bolo.html
Latest Review: Dibs and Dabs of my Life by Gertrude Coulter

Official Review: The Strength of Wills by Allen Walker

Post by Mercy Bolo » 12 Sep 2018, 01:15

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Strength of Wills" by Allen Walker.]
Book Cover
4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review


In Allen Walker's The Strength of Wills, he takes the reader on a fictitious historical journey through Poland, Germany, and France at the height of WWII. The book's events span a period of 3 years, from 1939 to 1941.

The protagonist is Jedrek, a polish teenager who finds himself in a precarious position after a bomb destroys the only home he's ever known, taking his dear mother's life in the explosion. With nothing left, Jedrek has no time to grieve as he's injured and has to flee to save his young life. He teams up with Viktor, a much older ex-military officer with whom he journeys into the unknown. Although an unusual pair, the two form a bond that's as close as that of father and son. They learn from each other, with Jedrek doing most of the learning, they risk their lives for each other, and they look out for each other. Their resilience and ingenuity shine through, helping them overcome the challenges that life hurls at them.

The Strength of Wills being Walker's first novel, I was impressed by its quality of writing. He presents the story in the form of journal entries, which made it possible to put the events into perspective. Sprinkled throughout the book are hand-drawn maps detailing Jedrek and Viktor's journey. These add a personal touch to the book, and even those with limited knowledge about Europe's geography will smoothly sail through. The author's mastery of language will captivate any keen reader, especially when the naive Jedrek hears Victor use "big" words and can't comprehend them. The book also contains phrases in German and French, but these need not be a deterrent to anyone who isn't proficient in these languages because the author provides translations. I also found the many footnotes useful as they provided valuable additional information.

Outside the cocoon of Jedrek and Viktor's individual lives, the author paints a realistic picture of the events of wartime. Death and destruction are rampant; lawlessness prevails, and it all boils down to every man for himself. The author doesn't shy away from narrating the horrors that the Nazis rained on perceived enemies, even giving insight into what went down inside the concentration camps. The psychological torture that these events have on a young mind is also evident, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for the many who remained scarred for life after their innocence was ripped away by these harrowing events. Also explored is sexuality and how it manifests in times of war. On this topic, the author hits the nail on the head, telling of soldiers whose perversion led them to prey on young boys.

Overall, the book is well-edited with several errors, mostly misspelled words, which didn't detract from the story. It's an insightful read which deserves a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I would recommend it to lovers of European history, WWII enthusiasts, and lovers of historical fiction.

******
The Strength of Wills
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon

Like Mercy Bolo's review? Post a comment saying so!
"The minimum requirement for a dream is a safe place to lay your head."
~OluTimehin Adegbeye

User avatar
Debjani Ghosh
Posts: 261
Joined: 18 May 2018, 05:51
2018 Reading Goal: 24
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 137
Currently Reading: Isabella's Painting
Bookshelf Size: 61
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-debjani-ghosh.html
Latest Review: The Engine Woman's Light by Laurel Anne Hill

Post by Debjani Ghosh » 13 Sep 2018, 01:29

I am sold on your review to pick up this book (if it's available at a discounted price :p). So many books pictured on WWII focus too much upon the war. I am glad that this book depicts an endearing relationship between a young boy and a middle-aged man, relying on each other to survive through the war. Thanks for the great review!

User avatar
Rosemary Khathibe
Posts: 317
Joined: 05 Jul 2017, 16:48
2018 Reading Goal: 55
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 30
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 56
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-rosemary-khathibe.html
Latest Review: Peppermint Mocha Murder by Pam Moll

Post by Rosemary Khathibe » 13 Sep 2018, 02:47

Wow,I wish I had a friendship like that of Jedrek and Viktor, the relationship so strong and inspiring! Even though I'm not a fan of historical fiction, the story seems interesting. Awesome review!

User avatar
kandscreeley
Special Discussion Leader
Posts: 5598
Joined: 31 Dec 2016, 20:31
2018 Reading Goal: 115
2017 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 69
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 94
Currently Reading: End of the Last Great Kingdom
Bookshelf Size: 208
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kandscreeley.html
Latest Review: Something Happened Today by Paul E. Kotz

Post by kandscreeley » 13 Sep 2018, 08:19

Wow! This seems quite well-done and realistic. I feel sorry for Jedrek and all he lost, but there are many that did lose much in that war. Thanks so much for the review. I'll have to put this one on my list.
“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
― Ernest Hemingway

420waystoreachthesun
Posts: 200
Joined: 20 Mar 2018, 11:47
Currently Reading: Bomb Goggles
Bookshelf Size: 50
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-420waystoreachthesun.html
Latest Review: A New Vision by Moriah Morningstar

Post by 420waystoreachthesun » 14 Sep 2018, 08:08

I love war narratives and I love your review. definitely going for this one.

Post Reply

Return to “Historical Fiction”