Cross My Heart – Carmen Reid

“10th May 1940
Everyone remembers where they were when they heard the terrible news. 
I was in class. My teacher, Monsieur Durance, was trying to tell us about William Shakespeare but no one could concentrate. We were all straining to see out of the high windows because people were running into the schoolyard, shouting, even crying. 
‘Let the children out! We want our children!’
‘The Nazis are coming!'”

Fifteen year old Nicole is in turmoil. The Nazis have invaded Brussels and her father has been taken. Things carry on mostly as normal, she goes to school, goes home, and meets up with friends. Yet things are far from normal with Nazi soilders lining the streets and one stationed at the end of her road all hours of the day. As things start to get worse Nicole knows she must do something, so against the wishes of her mother and her fathers last words to her, she joins a resistance group. Soon she learns that no one is too young to fire a gun, detonate a bomb or put her life on the line, but she must do these things to show that this war will end, eventually. 

***

I am beginning to adore War Literature in a way I never thought I would following my A Level module on the topic. If we had studied stories like Cross My Heart and Rose Under Fire I would have had no problem picking up on the facts, the raw emotions and just how terrible war was. Cross My Heart was an incredibly moving book that had no qualms about showing the true terror of war and I couldn’t put it down.

Nicole is bloshy right from the start and I absolutely loved her. She has a strong sense of right and wrong and that is what moves the storty forward in Cross My Heart. If she wasn’t as opinionated or determined things would have turned out very different for her, but I am glad she was. The story starts with the Nazi invasion on Belgium then skips forward five months. I loved the way it did this as it kind of showed just how different things became in that short five month period. There were other smaller skips forward but not many, not until towards the end of the book anyway and each time they just re-cemented the horrors that faced the people of Belgium, and Nicole, during the war.

The story is based on true events with some artistic licence taken here and there. Nicole, her family, the members of the resistance group, all the soldiers and her friends were all fictional characters but what they went through was adapted from real life accounts of the War. The speech from Sir Winston Churchill and the newspaper sabotage were brought forward for the sake of the story, but they did happen and they did set in motion similar events to those that happened in the book. Again these things were fascinating to read about and they really make you see as a reader how dangerous the time was.

The characters were incredible to follow in this story and I loved them all. Nicole was never in a position where I didn’t like her and even when she was doing something stupid, which only happens once or twice, I still couldn’t help loving her for it. In many ways she was so much braver than any of the other characters, except maybe the Owl and the Hawk. Hope was another favourite too and the things she went through were terrifying. I would have loved to have known a little more about her at the end of the book.

This book was raw and I really did love it but it took a lot out of me reading it. I wanted to stop in places but I also needed to carry on.  I will not delay reading more in this genre by this author because of the way her writing captures the true nightmares that the characters go through. It really is a must read and for anyone doing that stinky War Literature module at A Level, read this one along with your reading list!

Cross My Heart was published on August 1st by Corgi Children’s Books, a Random House imprint. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

For more info or to buy the book please visit: 
Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Author Website