*As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation was provided and my opinions--and those of my daughter--are strictly ours.*
Set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, "Bertie's War" by Barbara Tifft Blakey tells the story of young Roberta (Bertie), a sweet but overly emotional 7th grader, who always tries to do the right thing but often falls short of the mark. Due to the shaky political climate of 1962 and her own emotional instability that often comes with her age, Bertie has a tremendous amount of fear welled up inside of her. She deals with this by retreating into her own imaginary world as often as possible, which doesn't help her situation at all.
To make matters worse, Bertie's family isn't very open or talkative, but instead are quiet and reserved. Neither her parents or siblings seem to "get" everything that's going on inside of her, nor does the family exhibit any of the compassion you'd expect to see after witnessing another person's emotional outburst or in the midst of grief and loss.
While I understood why Bertie enjoyed this brand of escapism, I didn't see it as being very realistic for a girl her age. To me she seemed very immature and quite the "Drama Queen". My oldest (14) read the book as well and thought it was "Ok" but that Bertie "needed to suck it up and quit whining." And even though I've met a few emotionally reserved individuals over the years, I couldn't wrap my head around Bertie's parents. Their "distance" seemed a bit too distant, if that makes sense.
At the end, Bertie and her strict father--whom she readily fears and truly wants to please--have a breakthrough, which is very positive to see. However, both my daughter and I felt the ending was a bit of a stretch after all the issues Bertie had at the beginning of the story.
However, all personal plot/characterization opinions aside, Bertie's War could potentially make for a decent American history supplement. The author does a good job articulating the country's extreme fear of nuclear war, which segues nicely into the importance of not making fear-based decisions.
Bertie's War is available in paperback from Kregel Publishing for $7.99. Click here for more information.
To read what my fellow Crew members had to say about this product, please click here.