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Reviewed by Alle Wells for Readers' Favorite
Susan Violante tells the captivating story of her father’s childhood experiences during World War II. Innocent War gives an unusual account of a well-known war that begins in Tripoli. Nino, a young Italian boy, is barely ten years old when his father is sent away to fight in Mussolini’s army. In his father’s absence, Nino hangs around the military camps and strikes a deal with the Italian and German soldiers to help feed his family. When the school is bombed and the city becomes increasingly more dangerous, Nino’s mother leaves her home, with two children in tow, in search of her husband. Over the next four years, they embark on a remarkable journey as the family continually seeks shelter and safety. Each new home presents challenges and opportunities for Nino’s adventurous spirit. He learns a valuable lesson when his crafty survival skills lead to danger for himself and others.
Via Nino’s eyes, Ms. Violante guides us through a desert dust storm, the rocky Mediterranean coastline, colorful villages of Sicily and dark images of Italy’s cities destroyed by the ravages of war. Nino’s passage from childlike innocence to a coming of age awakening relates to the fiery youth within all of us. Innocent War provides an insightful look into life along the Mediterranean during the German occupation in World War II. Nino’s story intimately portrays the economic, social and emotional impact that warfare has on its innocent victims. I highly recommend this historical read for middle school teachers and their students.