Teen Advisory Corps member Zoe had this to say about The Lovely War by Julie Berry.
Sometimes young adult books seem to fall prey to repetitive formats and cliches. And sometimes a book like Lovely War by Julie Berry comes along and suddenly Greek gods are sitting around a World War II-era hotel room and narrating a story that takes place during the previous world war. Despite all the fantasy, somehow, Berry also manages to construct an honest tale and weave together readers’ emotions like the Fates themselves. Through four main characters, Hazel, James, Colette, and Aubrey, we gain insight into a wide variety of perspectives of war and see the struggles facing those two sets of lovers in a way that represents those of so many more.
Lovely War is a study of the relationship between the titular ideas: love and war. And that’s the amazing part of the story, how it’s not just entertaining but meaningful as well. Through James’s perspective, we see the psychological destruction of war, and how that damage affects those like Hazel who love suffering soldiers. Colette represents the true tragedy of war as she has lost so much, and Aubrey helps bring the oft-overshadowed story of black WWI soldiers to life. Their lives intersect like music, fitting as Hazel and Aubrey play piano and Colette sings.
Love, readers learn, is the vital ingredient for surviving war. This Aphrodite explains between glimpses into the lives of humans. And here the book is optimistic, offering hope even for those thrust into the atrocities of war. Plus, Lovely War makes for a very educational historical fiction, as we’re introduced not only to real-life battles but to changing musical trends and civil rights progress as well. Thus, Berry’s writing produces a unique rhythm as it follows a complex melody, suggesting haunting beauty along the way.