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Bertie’s War by Barbara Tifft Blakey

PhotobucketBertie’s War by Barbara Tifft Blakey is the story of a twelve year old girl, Bertie, who lives with her family in Washington state during the 1960s.  Bertie is the middle child, squashed between an self-confident older sister and a mischievous younger brother.  Fear more or less controls Bertie’s life.  Her number one fear is of the Communists and nuclear war, since this troubling threat is always present on the airwaves and in the newspapers.  In fact, she can’t even go to school without being reminded of the possibility of a nuclear attack–they have drills to prepare for such an eventuality.  Bertie is also afraid of her father–of disappointing him, of disobeying him, of having to visit “the woodshed.”  All of these fears force Bertie into something of  a shell of isolation–she reads a lot and works on fixing up her own nuclear fallout shelter for her family.  She uses the fear to protect herself, much like she expects her new, light-colored winter coat to protect her from radiation when the missiles are launched. 

Bertie’s War is a book in which not much actually happens; it’s definitely more about the internal life of the protagonist than anything else.  I think that’s one reason I had a hard time warming up to it in the beginning, too, although I usually like such books.  It bothered me that a twelve year old girl was so worried and afraid all of the time.  However, I haven’t read much about this historical time period, and so I imagine that the book might give a realistic picture of what it was like to be a sensitive child during the height of the Cold War. 

I received the book Bertie’s War by Barbara Tifft Blakey to review for TOS HomeschoolCrew, and as I’ve already mentioned, it took me a while to warm up to it.  I took the book with me on an overnight business trip I took with Steady Eddie back at the beginning of December, and on the trip I read probably the first half of the book.  I stalled out after that, due to a combination of morning sickness (how long will I use this for an excuse, you’re wondering, I’m sure 😉 ), Christmas preparations, and the general blahs.  However, when I picked it back up again to finish it, I found myself liking it more and more.  I’m not sure that it was any fault of the book’s that I didn’t like it to begin with, but this is a story that comes together more at the end.  Published by the evangelical Christian Kregel Publications, Bertie’s War is not the typical in-your-face-with- the-Gospel approach to a novel.  Although a message is there, it is very subtle, present almost only through symbolism.  I found the light touch to be nice, and in the end, I think that this might be what made me like it so much.  Thoughtful tweens or teens, especially girls, might like this one.  It would also be useful to get a “feeling” for life during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Bertie’s War is available for purchase through Kregel.  If you would like to read more reviews of Bertie’s War visit TOS HomeschoolCrew blog


This book was sent to me free of charge for review purposes.

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3 Responses

  1. […] Bertie’s War by Barbara Tifft Blakey […]

  2. Hi, this is Barbara Blakey, the author of Bertie’s War. Thanks for reading and reviewing my book. I care want readers think and I appreciate your comments. Happy Reading!

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