Recently, Aaron’s War, competed in the 28th Annual Writer’s Digest Fiction Contest. The judge’s commentary follows:
The premise behind this wartime tale, that a boy signs up to fight the enemy only to find out that he has a bigger stake in things than he realized, is one I haven’t really encountered and it worked out well. Watching Aaron struggle not only with how to be a soldier in the middle of a war, but a Jew, was fascinating. And on top of that, he fell in love, married, and while away at war, found out that he was going to be a father. Any of those identity crises would be enough to break a person, so it’s no surprise that by the time he returns to the United States, he is a changed man and doesn’t know how to readjust to civilian life. This book offers a pretty realistic take on the war and doesn’t glorify or romanticize things, which I greatly appreciated. When he had the meal at the end with Bernhard, I enjoyed the simplicity that the German (who was actually French) laid things out for him: they were both Jewish and that’s why he couldn’t kill him. Talking things through, he encouraged Aaron to go home to his wife and let her help him, and I honestly feel that in that scene, he was my favorite character of the book. I felt that things flowed smoothly, honestly, and realistically through the book and was so glad to see a glimpse of hope reappear in Aaron by the ending.