Trevor can’t get enough of his great-grandfather Jacob’s stories of World War II. Jacob stormed the beaches at Normandy, courageously fought Nazis and spent grueling days and seemingly endless nights in trenches. His battalion even liberated a small French village. Jacob’s heroism is an unquestionable fact, and Trevor’s life revolves around his great-grandfather’s war, from the video games he plays for hours on end to the memorabilia he collects and the posters that adorn his bedroom walls.
It seems like the opportunity of a lifetime for Trevor when the French village of Sainte-Régine wants to honor Jacob as the last surviving participant in the battle for the town’s liberation. It’s a chance to travel with Jacob to a place where the war was actually fought. But was Trevor’s great-grandfather really as heroic as he seems in all his stories?
Trevor, his father and Jacob embark on a pilgrimage of sorts, retracing Jacob’s footsteps during the war from basic training at a base in Georgia to England and then to France. Trevor takes in the sights and the history with enthusiasm, but Jacob becomes less excited and more tired as they come closer to Sainte-Régine, and the trip is plagued by a series of unpleasant coincidences. There’s no telling what truths will be revealed when the pilgrims arrive in Sainte-Régine.
Alternating between the present and flashbacks to Jacob’s wartime experiences, bestselling author Gordon Korman’s War Stories juxtaposes a boy’s admiration and belief in his great-grandfather’s heroism and valor with the gritty and morally complex reality of war. Korman strikes a perfect balance between compassion and honesty as he unflinchingly explores the sometimes fine line between heroes and traitors, victors and villains. It’s a masterful demonstration of how the effects of war don’t end when battles are won or lost but continue to ripple down through generations.