Thursday, January 25, 2018
#tbt: Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo. 208 p. Scholastic, October, 2004. 9780439636483. (Review from purchased copy.)
#tbt features another all-time favorite title, Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo. Private Thomas Peaceful is on watch and needs to stay awake for the entire night. If he falls asleep, he could be executed. To keep himself alert, he reflects upon his childhood and how he ended up fighting in World War I.
Though poor, he had a happy childhood. He grew up on a farm in the English countryside in a loving family. He adored his father and older brother, Charlie and feels protective of his brain-damaged oldest brother, Big Joe. He also has a crush on Charlie's friend, Molly. He feels guilt over his father's accidental death and lies about his age to follow Charlie into the army.
The structure of this intricately plotted novel is sophisticated but rewarding. Charlie is an engaging storyteller who holds the reader rapt and feeling such a variety of emotions that when the reason for his duty is revealed at the end, feelings of shock, grief and devastation are unavoidable.