This is one of those books I had to pause and catch my breath after reading. not only was it incredibly well written, but it was impossible not to feel for Lukas as he transformed from school boy to soldier then prisoner. If you love WWII lit, Defiance is well worth the read!
Author: A. L. Sowards
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Publication Date: April 18, 2017
Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, WWII Fiction
Themes: WWII, POW Camps, Bastogne, Resilience, Survival
My Rating: 5/ 5
Eight years after immigrating to the United States, German-born Lukas Ley embodies the American dream: successful athlete, gorgeous girlfriend, loving family. But beneath the surface, eighteen-year-old Lukas is driven by ambition, resolved to avenge the murder of his father at the hands of the Nazi regime. Unfortunately, a failed physical throws his plans for flight school off course. Unlike his war-hero older brother, Lukas’s purpose is unclear. He can’t fly, and in the eyes of the military, he’s good for only one thing—the front lines.
From the foxholes of war-ravaged Luxembourg to the devastation of an enormous German offensive, Lukas’s journey is fraught with peril. But when he’s taken as a prisoner of war, he realizes life is about to get much worse. In the enemy camp, Lukas is viewed as a German fighting for the wrong side. Ripped from the innocence of an idealistic youth, he becomes a man beaten by the horrors of war. Now his only hope of survival is to hold tightly to his faith in God and his love of family and home. But even if he manages to make it out alive, can he ever be whole again?
Sometimes survival is the ultimate act of Defiance.
I loved this book. Not because it was particularly happy, or because it had a hopeful ending, but because it focused on one character and told their story exceptionally well. Through all of the emotional ups and downs I was enraptured in Lukas’s experience and I was incredibly thankful that not too much time was dedicated to the explication of others. The result was that the narrative was personal, heartfelt, and impossible to look away from.
Another thing that worked incredibly well was the division of the narrative into distinct sections. This allowed for enough background to be established without waisting time and words moving from one major event to the next. At first I was a little surprised that the whole of basic training was left out, but ultimately everything worked amazingly well. The pacing was smooth and quick with enough action to keep me turning the pages well after midnight on more than one occasion.
Also, it was refreshing to read a fictional work about the events in Luxembourg that led up to Bastogne. With so much out there on the battle of the Bulge, especially Bastogne, it was refreshing to pick up a piece that focused on a single moment in an obscure town, and where success wasn’t imminent. Similarly, it was both heart-wrenching and fascinating to read about the work camps and conditions that POWs had to endure. Although somewhat lesser known in the greater dialogue of WWII, it is clear that the places and events discussed were well researched and grounded in fact. I never felt for one instance that I was reading a work of fiction, and my heart soared with ever escape attempt and broke with the loss of every friend.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! Not only is it well written, it is an emotional ride that will leave you rooting for the under-dog and always wanting more. Defiance is a wonderful work of historical fiction, and I am certain that I will be seeking out some of Sowards’ other titles. Buy it, borrow it, check it out from the library – this baby is well worth the time!
Many thanks to A. L. Sowards and Covenant Communications for providing a digital copy for review via Net Galley.