Enemies in the Orchard by Dana VanderLugt

I absolutely adore novels in verse and, of course, anything about World War 2. When I saw the email from Zonderzkidz Kidz Review Krew with a Blink YA option for a novel that combined both those things? I had to say yes.

About Enemies in the Orchard:

It’s October 1944, and while Claire’s older brother, Danny, is off fighting in World War II, her dad hires a group of German POWs to help with the apple harvest on their farm. Claire wants nothing to do with the enemies in the orchard, until she meets soft-spoken, hardworking Karl. Could she possibly have something in common with a German soldier?

Karl, meanwhile, grapples with his role in the war as he realizes how many lies Hitler’s regime has spread—and his complacency in not standing up against them. But his encounters with Claire give him hope that he can change and become the person he wants to be.

Inspired by the little-known history of POW labor camps in the United States, this lyrical verse novel is told in alternating first-person poems by two young people on opposite sides of the war. Against a vivid backdrop of home front tensions and daily life, intimate entries reveal Claire’s and Karl's hopes and struggles, and their growing friendship even as the war rages on. What are their chances of connection, of redemption, of peace?

My Thoughts:

This novel was absolutely everything I could have hoped it would be.  Told in verse form, alternating chapters share Claire's and Karl's points of views, Claire's as an American teenager growing up on the homefront and Karl's as a German POW who is unsure about his role as a soldier now.  While initially distrustful of the POW laborers, Claire comes to recognize Karl as being more similar to her and her family rather than the enemy.

The author does an amazing job sharing a part of World War 2 history that isn't very well known.  Even with degrees in the field, I have only read brief mentions of these POW labor camps within the United States and the Germans who were sent there.  I'm convinced that every WW2 novel I read finds me another bit of information that I hadn't read before, furthering my interest in the topic.

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