Innocent War: Behind an Immigrant’s Past, Book 1

Susan Violante
Outskirts Press (2011)
ISBN 9781432770471

Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age 12) for Reader Views (05/11)

“Innocent War” by Susan Violante is the story of her father’s childhood experiences growing up in Italy during World War II.  Up until the war, Nino led a relatively ordinary life for a kid growing up in Europe.  When World War II broke out he went to school and tried to live as ordinary a life as he could.  But then the bombing started.  Life became intolerable and food became scarce.  Nino thought it couldn’t get worse, but when his father was drafted and one of his best friends killed, he knew he was wrong.  How will his life change?

After a long time of wandering, and trying to find a safe place to stay, Nino and his family settled down in the mountain town of Modica Alta.  Life there was pretty quiet until the American bombing raids.  Several American planes were shot down and the pilots taken prisoner but only after the soccer field was completely obliterated.  Soon after this incident the Germans left and the Americans came in. 

For a kid, Nino faced the dangers of World War II pretty well.  I am not sure I could have done the same.  At times Nino did some things he probably shouldn’t have; such as disassembling different weapons like mines and selling the detonators as firecrackers.  All in all he held up pretty well to stress and constant danger.  But life just wasn’t as good without his father.  Will he ever see his father again?

One interesting aspect of this book was that it was written from an Axis perspective.  One of Mussolini’s speeches praised war, guns, and fire.  During his time in Modica Alta everyone was scared of the Americans, especially after some had been imprisoned.  Some of the character’’ experiences helped me to understand why some of the Italians hated the Americans so much.  It was fun to try and place myself in Nino’s shoes and see how I would react if faced with his same choices. 

I would recommend “Innocent War” by Susan Violante to people who like adventure and non-fiction.  This was a true story and it was interesting to see what Nino had to live through.  It was a fun read, and I will recommend it to my friends who are interested in history.  

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