I Had Seen Castles by Cynthia Rylant

I Had Seen Castles I Had Seen Castles, 4.5/5, YA, 128 pages, pub. 1993

John Dante is seventeen when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, and he wants to fight for his country. But then he falls head over heels for Ginny Burton, who is against all war, and his beliefs are suddenly questioned. Rather than be judged a traitor or a coward, though, John enlists–a decision that changes his life forever.   from Goodreads

I picked up this book last month because of the length and the fact that I could add it to my Classics Challenge so I really didn’t even know anything about it.  I was so moved my this novella.  It was so engrossing and really pulled the heartstrings.  If you are talking to kids about war or the military this would be a great read, as long as you are okay with one sex scene and one drunken night.

It’s Pittsburgh in 1939 and there’s a war going on but when Japan attacks Pearl Harbor all the boys, including 17 year old John Dante, know that signing up is what they must do.  John has to wait until he turns 18 and during that time he meets Ginny, his first love, who is against war of any kind.  They don’t let that keep them apart and until the day John ships off you are hoping love prevails.

This book runs the gamut of the realities of war and the validity of it: the all consuming patriotism after an attack, the pressure to join the military, the feeling of being a hero, the bloody reality of war and the aftermath when you learn to live with what you’ve done.  And to Rylant’s credit she also brought to light what happens to the women.  John’s mom goes to work and he resents it and his sister was perhaps the most interesting character to me and I won’t say more.  I would read her story in a heartbeat.

Obviously a lot of love for this one.  This was my 26th selection for the Classics Club challenge.  I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.

4 thoughts on “I Had Seen Castles by Cynthia Rylant

  1. Literary Feline says:

    It sounds like the author was able to put a lot into this novella. Something that I imagine isn’t easy for just any author to do. Such an interesting time period and one I enjoy reading about. Your review made me think of my grandfather. I am adding this to my wish list.

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