Books by Geert Spillebeen

AGE 14 by Geert Spillebeen
Released: Oct. 1, 2009

Patrick Condon longs to be a soldier. He's big and tough for his 12 years, and he feels ready, so he runs away to enlist in the Irish militia, upping his age five years and claiming his older brother John's identity. The year is 1913, the place rural Ireland and the rumblings of World War I already audible. When Germany invades Belgium and Great Britain declares war, "John" is catapulted into a bloodier adventure than he had imagined. The novel is episodic (sometimes wonderfully immediate, sometimes more reportorial), but frequent scene-setting demarcations keep the chronology clear. The boy enters too soon into the sexualized, beery world of adults and the horrors of war, but John remains an enthusiastic soldier, wincingly so in context. Cruelty is counterbalanced by kindness as John finds a new, closer kind of family in the trenches before he, almost age 14, is killed in battle. Translated from Dutch, this riveting Belgian novel—based on a true story—reminds readers of the world's many child soldiers as it sledgehammers the notion of glorifying war. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 13 & up)Read full book review >
KIPLING’S CHOICE by Geert Spillebeen
Released: May 30, 2005

"John Kipling was just one small officer in the Great War," the war to end all wars. He was 18 years old in his first and last battle. He was the only son of the world-famous author, Rudyard Kipling, who pulled strings to get John into the army. "Perfectly timed," Rudyard thought of the war. "Here was John's chance." Moreover, Kipling's wartime writing rallied the nation, his verses like oil on the fire. Second Lieutenant Kipling suffers horrific injuries as part of the Irish Guards in France, and Spillebeen's grim narrative tells the alternating stories of John's death throes and how he ended up a soldier in the first place. His death breaks his father, who's horrified at what he has done. "How many boys have I written into the grave," he wonders. This powerful anti-war novel, made even more powerful by its roots in a famous author's real life and his evolution from war zealot to embittered, broken father, deserves a place beside All Quiet on the Western Front. (epilogue, bibliography) (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >