"In their minds, they were brothers, and nothing could alter that."

Throughout Henderson’s extensive historical drama, World War II casts a darkness over the young lives of three closely bonded cousins—Robert, Karl, and Lisa. Robert is a sensitive soul with a comfortable English upbringing. His love for music conflicts with the military aspirations of his father (a general) and the world around him as war looms. As Robert transitions from childhood to manhood, he strives to make his father proud and live up to his high expectations despite his own doubts and reluctance.

One bright spot in Robert’s life is the summer days spent in Holland. But those days forewarn of dramatic changes with the rise of Hitler and Karl’s assimilation into the Hitler Youth. As time progresses, the “mad young devils” find their love and affections for one another complicated and altered by the realities of war and political strife. When Robert tackles a high-risk mission, it is the memories of his cousins that become a source of strength. Ultimately, he comes to terms with his relationship with his father and faces hard truths with those he loves dearly.

Though heavy at times with plentiful action and minor characters, Henderson’s tale has a lot going for it. Broken into three parts, The author crafts this detailed, coming-of-age novel in a genre in which he seems completely comfortable. At the heart of his story is the emerging adolescence of his three young characters amid a world ensnared by the horrors of war. Henderson’s narrative is strongest here with his intricate examinations of their inner turmoil and the long-lasting outward effects war has on them. He portrays his characters with realism and tenderness. On the surface, he touches on themes of war, loss of innocence, family, and societal expectations. Henderson fully commits himself to this historical fiction that readers should find intriguing and a satisfying read.

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