A.G. Russo's Our Wild and Precious Lives

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A.G. Russo's Our Wild and Precious Lives

Postby DiDonovan » Sun Nov 09, 2014 12:05 pm

I read a LOT of young adult fiction; primarily because I largely (in a good read, of course) find their plots more direct, their interpersonal conflicts more accessible, and the focus on their feelings and motivations more understandable than many a comparative adult novel.

Our Wild and Precious Lives attracted with a powerful title and it didn't disappoint. I'd call it a 'YA/adult crossover' simply because it should be limited to young adult readers alone, though be forewarned - the characters ARE young adults with the usual focus and concerns.

A novel set in 1960 Cold War Germany doesn't sound like an auspicious beginning for a young adult read; nor do the protagonists, who are teenage Army brats used to relying on one another for support and companionship. But an adult-sounding setting and circumstances is exactly what sets Our Wild and Precious Lives apart from other young adult reads and makes it a vivid and different story that will reach into adult circles even as it remains firmly rooted in the perceptions, experiences, and reactions of teenagers.

Creating a novel filled with such political and family insights is a dance. Of necessity it must move deftly, logically and precisely between two very different atmospheres that don't necessarily sync up easily: that of a military family's interactions and psychology, and the bigger picture of world events.

The real strength of a good novel lies in its ability to view the world through others' eyes. As the siblings mature (and as events concurrently mature in Europe) readers receive insights not just on the young adult perspective, but (through a series of flashbacks) the forces that shaped their father's psyche and set the stage for the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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