Amy's Marathon of Books Review - The Comic Book War
Reviewed by: Amy Mathers
Somewhat reminiscent of The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen, The Comic Book War by Jacqueline Guest is a touching look at how one young man reacts to the stress of his three older brothers being in constant danger while away at war.
I enjoyed the cultural exploration of Canadian comics while the embargo on American goods took place during the war and the historical aspect of life during WWII, but mostly I just loved the characters and the story itself. Even though I saw Robert's connection between his comics and his brothers as a grief reaction, there was a little part of me that believed the meteorite did have special powers and caused the comics to be prophetic. I was taken up by Robert's story, hoping beyond hope that he could protect his brothers through buying and reading the comics. Like his neighbour, Mr. Glowinski, tells Robert, he would do anything to have saved his family, Robert, in his own unique way, is trying to do the same thing.
Robert's journey is heartfelt and genuine. He grows throughout the book, getting over his aversion to girls and learning to work hard to earn money. His determination is equalled by Charlie's (Charlene), and once he realises that they become good friends. But being a telegram delivery boy during the war is tough job, as it often involves delivering bad news about loved ones. When Charlie shows up at his door with one such telegram, Robert is still convinced his comic books will give him insight into saving his brother.
But I think what I loved best was that when the magical thinking ended, Robert had two people who understood and supported him to see him through: Charlie and Mr. Glowinski. Their collective view of friendship will give Robert a solid foundation to build on as he begins to deal with reality once more.
I can easily see why Guest's book made the Red Maple Forest of Reading list this year.