Good evening, readers! The week is ending and my eyes are closing, but I just finished my latest audiobook and had to tell all of you what I thought. Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave is a book I’ve wanted to get my hands on for awhile, but never got around to grabbing on my bookstore runs. Thankfully, a recent detour to my office every morning means I have tons of time to kill while I’m on the road, so I downloaded a copy to listen to instead.
This is one of those books I walked away from in a total haze. It just…. punched me right in the heart. The story does start a bit on the slow side, but once you stick with it, the plot picks up and you find yourself fretting for the safety of all the players involved in this story.
Everyone Brave is Forgiven is about a group of friends: Mary, Tom, Allister, and Hilda, and how the early days of World War II is affecting each of them during the London bombings. Mary signs up to be a school teacher, and winds up with the children who weren’t wanted out in the country. Hilda is her socialite friend who wants her man in uniform and doesn’t always seem to grasp just how serious this war is. Tom works in the education system as well, winds up as Mary’s boss of sorts at the school, and becomes the man she wants to marry. Allister is Tom’s flatmate, and works at The Tate restoring artwork to its prime, perfect condition.
When Germans begin dropping bombs on the city, and Allister volunteers to go to war, everything changes for the small group, and I was devastated for every single one of them. They’re trying to maintain their relationships, and make times as bearable as possible, but when the world is changing on an hourly basis, that’s just not going to happen, no matter how badly they want things to return to normal.
The girls join the ambulances and volunteer, Tom is coming to the rescue for those left on the streets during raids, and Allister is fighting on the front lines. Everything this group has known is no longer a comfort to them. All they can do is hold on tight and try to make it through every day.
This book broke my heart, and when it wasn’t breaking, it was in my throat wondering what would happen to this gang. Hilda’s light humor gave me a random giggle, Mary’s practicality kept me grounded, Tom was a total romantic, and Allister’s honesty made me realize how dangerous their situation was during the early years of war.
Wars, especially ones as colossal as WWII changed its soldiers and civilians forever. I hurt and admired every single one of these characters for what they endured in such an unbearable moment in world history. What I appreciated the most was the fact that their stories didn’t end in a form of perfection. Life is so altered, that I was left wondering where each individual would wind up in the future, and all I could do was hope and keep my fingers crossed that they do their best and attempt to find a new happy. As Brits, they had to learn how to keep calm and carry on, in every way they knew how.