This was not an easy book to read.
DiLouie pulls no punches and his books force us to take a long hard look in the mirror to examine uncomfortable truths. Where One of Us dealt with the horrors of extreme prejudice, Our War tackles tribalism and political radicalization.
In the near future, the president of the United States refuses to step down after being impeached. The country erupts into civil war, with liberals supporting Congress and conservatives standing behind the president. 10-year-old Hannah Miller and her brother Alex find themselves on opposite sides of the war. Though the nation’s political divide is sharper than ever, the siblings are just fighting to survive. Meanwhile, a UNICEF worker and reporter discover America is using child soldiers and set out to expose the truth to the world.
DiLouie shows an uncanny knack for capturing what it means to be human. I came into this book expecting a particular political point of view to be favored. Instead, vastly different beliefs were portrayed with compassion and understanding. I fell in love with characters on all sides of the war, complex humans capable of both good and evil.
The horrors of war don’t end with violence. Families are splintered along political lines, those in power turn a blind eye to the use of child soldiers, and Americans can no longer pretend to have the moral high ground compared to more “barbaric” nations. Worst of all, the general public quickly learns to accept their terrifying new reality as normal.
Our War is not an easy read, but it’s an important one. Once again, DiLouie has managed to distill one of humanity’s greatest conflicts into a masterpiece of literature.
Where classics like 1984 or Brave New World warned of dystopias set years in the future, it’s only too easy to envision a world like the one presented in Our War becoming reality in mere months. America may have been losing it’s mind for a while, but the storm that follows the calm could be just around the corner.