When We Were Two | Robert Newton

I now have another title to add to my list of books that made me cry.

When We Were Two was a real surprise package. I had put off reading it because I thought it was about two soldiers/brothers in the Vietnam War. I’m not philosophically opposed to war stories or the Vietnam War in particular, but I did think it was going to be a bloke-y action kind of book. And I usually palm those books off onto my stepsons.

However I’m determined to read as many of this years CBCA shortlist as I can and this is one of the teen nominees, so today I picked it up with a big sigh of resignation & a let’s get this over and done with as quickly as possible attitude.

I love it when a book proves me wrong.

Yes, this is a war story, but WW1 not Vietnam. Yes, it’s a story about two brothers marching out of town with one of the coo-ee marches, but so much happens before and after that. And the brothers are only 11 and 15. Basically the same ages as both my stepsons.

Newton has written a splendid, engaging, heart-warming road trip story complete with rites of passage, tests of character, brotherly love and friendships. You could even say there is a hint ‘Of Mice and Men’ about it. Newton evokes the time and place beautifully, like Steinbeck, but he doesn’t delve into the darker sides of human nature as deeply or bleakly as Steinbeck can. Like most authors for children and teens, Newton sticks to the principle of providing hope.

Highly recommended for mature teen readers.

Dan had to go,
He felt he had no choice,
but leaving home was never
going to be easy . . .

Dan and his brother Eddie take off for the coast, in search of their lost mother, in search of a better life . . . but it’s a long road they face and Dan must use all his wits to get them there in one piece.

When they are taken under the wings of a group of would-be soldiers marching over the mountains to join up for the Great War, Dan and Eddie’s journey becomes something quite unexpected. The experiences they share will shape their future beyond recognition.

2 thoughts on “When We Were Two | Robert Newton

  1. I would love to get to reading the shortlist too, but I know it isn't going to happen. I didn't know anything about this one, so was glad to read your review. It sounds good.


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