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Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
War Nightmares by Michael Montero is a memoir set in Madrid, Spain, in the midst of the bloody Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939. A seven-year-old boy is thrust into the struggle between the right-wing Nationals and the ruling left-wing Republican government that culminates in a full blown civil war. Life somehow goes on and he continues going to school at the Larrumbe School, but when the shooting starts, the realities of war envelop his young life. For three years Spain is in turmoil, with fighter planes patrolling its skies, executions, deaths threats, explosions and machine gun fire becoming part of this little boy's life.
Michael Montero's War Nightmares is a first-hand account of the Spanish Civil War that is told from the perspective of a seven-year-old boy. And this makes the narrative compelling and realistic. This is a story about a family and a community that faced the travails of war time Madrid as best as they could. Above all, this is the story of a little boy's coming of age prematurely as a result of circumstances beyond his control. Michael Montero writes with a voice that is innocent and unique. There is no outright condemnation of the warring factions that grappled for control of his motherland. There is only a poignant telling of a life changed forever by a war that ravaged a country and its people, and the childhood memories of a little boy who had to grow up as fast as he could. War Nightmares is a fascinating read.