When we first meet Allie Morrison in Prisoner of Dieppe by Hugh Brewster, he's a a brand new Scottish immigrant being teased about his accent. He finds a champion in the charismatic Mackie. Throughout their childhood and hard times of the Great Depression, the pair grow to become best friends. Then Canada joins the war and so does Mackie convincing Allie to enlist too. Allie admits he's not a good soldier and struggles during training. Mackie is always there to guide him.
The boys finally see action when their squadron is part of the Battle of Dieppe which ends in bloody disaster. After seeing most of their friends slaughtered, Mackie and Allie are captured and sent to a German POW camp where they learn Dieppe is just the beginning of their suffering.
Although I'm not the target audience for Prisoner of Dieppe, I was riveted by the story. At times, I wondered if I was really reading a fictional account and not a diary of a real soldier. It's very well written. The book is filled with the details of the life of a soldier and POW, but it never dragged. The pacing was quick and yet nothing is taken from the characterizations. I felt I knew Allie and Mackie; Allie, more cautious than Mackie who never thinks of the consequences, just marches in believing it will work out fine.
Prisoner of Dieppe is in easy to read style yet because of the subject matter there are some grim scenes. Brewster incorporates a boy's thirst for adventure with the horrible realities. The characters still chase girls and tell jokes. It's not all doom and gloom. There is also a glossary for all the unfamiliar terms used and photographs from the places and events mentioned in the book.
I will admit that I was a bit disappointed with the end of the story, though I suppose it's intended to show that even the bravest of us still make mistakes. The men suffered greatly under the stress of being captured and the survivors had a tremendous amount of grief and guilt to deal with.
You can learn more about Prisoner of Dieppe on the Scholastic Canada website.
Highly recommended, even if you're not a 12 year old boy or Canadian.
I won this from a Scholastic Canada Twitter contest.