SOLDIER X by Don Wulffson

SOLDIER X

Age Range: 14 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Almost 16 years old in 1944, Erik Brandt finds himself on a German troop train headed for the Eastern Front in Russia. Because his mother was born in Russia, he is bilingual and has volunteered to be an interpreter. What he and his fellow teenaged recruits find is that they are thrown into the front line of a battle near Tarnapol as part of an infantry division. Wounded in the trenches, Erik changes clothing with a dead Russian soldier and finds himself in a Russian field hospital feigning amnesia and constantly worrying about his Russian accent. In the weeks that follow, he gains assurance and friends and proves useful as an orderly. He is almost comfortable and less apprehensive until the moment that he spills hot oil on himself and cries out in German. The young Russian girl who hears him, Tamara, says nothing, and later becomes his companion as together, on foot, they flee a German offensive. Walking west through the Ukraine, facing danger and starvation, they use their increasingly effective survival skills and miraculously are taken in by a Czech woman who lives alone in her grand, war-damaged estate. Erik and Tamara grow to love each other and she stays faithful to him even as he is seriously wounded by American soldiers. Based on the lives of the author and his wife, this harrowing tale opens and concludes with the words of the adult Brandt. It is a compelling, graphic, and bloody depiction of war from the viewpoint of a raw recruit who is neither a Hitler fanatic nor a convert to communism. He simply and movingly records the daily horrors of living in a battlefield and his determination to survive and live freely. (Historical fiction. YA)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-670-88863-X
Page count: 244pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2001




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