Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What Mrs. N's Been Reading - An Innocent Soldier and Not as Crazy as I Seem

I've been reading faster than I've been posting lately so you'll get 2 books in one posting. I just finished Joseph Holub's An Innocent Soldier and George Harrar's Not as Crazy as I Seem. One gives you an inside look into either a time period that you don't usually read about and the other gives you an inside look into a type of person that you don't generally read about.

First, An Innocent Soldier. It starts as a young man is tricked by the farmer he works for, into being conscripted into Napoleon's Grande Armee in place of the farmer's son, and follows him through Napoleon's failed attempt to conquer Russia. The author does a wonderful job of letting you see things through the eyes of an incredibly naive and sheltered young man. (He had never even been to the nearest town, let alone another country.) Adam sees the gamut of humanity, from a sadistic sargeant who is out to get him, to a young nobleman officer who takes him in as his servant, to the looting and pillaging soldiers who are trying to avoid starvation. Historically, 450,000 men marched to Russia, with less than a quarter of them returning. Holub writes about a young man's views of war with some authority, since he was conscripted into Hitler's army as a teenager.

Not as Crazy as I Seem takes you inside the head of a teen with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Generally when you think of OCD you think of the people who are on the extreme end of the scale. In the book, though, you see a few characters who aren't specifically identified as OCD but you see that they fall at the milder end of the scale. It kind of got me thinking - if I eat the same thing for breakfast every day for several weeks does that make me slightly OCD or just really boring? Which makes you think, when you see someone at the extreme end, that you're probably not as different as you'd like to think. Devon has just moved and is trying to hide his OCD at his new school. Let's just say that things don't exactly go his way and he ends up getting expelled for something he didn't even do. In the course of sorting things out, events that may be at the root of his OCD come to light. You learn a good bit about OCD without it seeming like a textbook. And it would be a good story even if Devon didn't have OCD, which is part of the point.

I'd recommend both books. Enjoy!

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