Home > Intermediate Fiction, Senior Fiction, Young Adult > When Our Jack went to War by Sandy McKay

When Our Jack went to War by Sandy McKay

May 13, 2013

our jackWhen Our Jack Went to War by Sandy McKay. Pub. Longacre, 2013. 

A powerful novel told in letters from 18 year old Jack to his younger brother Tom from the battlefields of France and Belgium during World War 1.

Sandy McKay has shown the contrasting situations of the men in the trenches and how the war was portrayed by the Political leaders and the press at the time. The letters reflect this astonishing difference.

Tom’s letters from home are almost “boys own” in content and opinion. War is like a game, like hunting rabbits. You know however that this was the naive spirit and innocent enthusiasm that took young men to the battlefields of Europe for King and Country.

Jack’s letters start out with that innocence and enthusiasm. The big adventure, can’t wait to get their before it is all over, lets give the Hun a taste of their own medicine. Then the realities hit in as the slaughter begins. The men knew their leaders and decision makers were useless. They couldn’t do anything about it through fear of being shot as traitors. They took it and thousands were slaughtered for nothing.

It bothers me that Kiwi soldiers were paid less than the Aussies but more than the British. What cost a life?

Sandy McKay tells this story with class. Let the reader decide. To make the story more powerful she includes newspaper articles about the battles, about conscientious objectors and everything that was going on at home.

The last 15 pages will wrench your heart out.

High school and young adult in appeal.

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