When I taught the Vietnam War to 8th graders in Social Studies, one of the argument essay topics that inevitably drew a lot of interest was comparing and contrasting their favorite war-based video game to real events in the war the game was based on.
It took a lot of research, a lot more than most of my students initially bargained on, to understand how video games differed from events in the Vietnam War, for example.
And that's the big take-away from this book.
Trevor loves playing WWII-based video games. His father, a history teacher, is constantly reminding him war is nothing like the games he plays, but it's like talking to a brick wall.
It doesn't help that his great grandpa -- GG -- tells magnificent stories of his experiences liberating the French in WWII that are seemingly completely at odds with what his father is always nagging about, and Trevor idolizes his GG and his role in WWII.
As a reader, you know war is nothing short of horrific and that Trevor's idolization is just begging to be knocked down a peg or two. But Trevor has no idea what's coming.
When his GG agrees to travel to France to the small village he supposedly helped liberate and accept a medal, Trevor goes along to retrace his GG's steps. From landing on Omaha Beach the whole way to Sainte Regine, France, the trip evokes memories and makes Trevor see WWII in a totally new, non-video game light. And he learns about one of his GG's decisions that will forever color how he regards the old man.
The book is told in dual time lines -- Trevor's modern day one, which features someone from the village who's not willing to let history die, and Jacob's (aka GG) 1945 one, as a scared recruit landing on Omaha Beach and forced to make decisions no 17-year-old should ever have to face.
It's a powerful story and I won't ruin the ending. Enjoy!