Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Threads of Blue by Suzanne LaFleur

Threads of Blue is the sequel to Beautiful Blue World, a story about children involved in an nameless war between fictional countries, a landscape that bears an uncanny resemblance to Europe. After being tested for their suitably, some children of Sofarende are sent away from their families to a remote area called Faetre as part of an Adolescent Army unit, where they worked on important intelligenc for the war effort. While in Faetre, the children were not allowed any contact with their families. 

You may recall that at the end of Beautiful Blue World, Mathilde Joss, 12, had committed what might be considered an act of treason that had caused her to become separated from the other members of her Adolescent Army unit as they are being evacuated to the safety of Eilean, an ally of Sofarende.

Now, Mathilde must try and find out where the Adolescent Army is on Eilean, after being brought across the sea that separates it from Sofarende. There is danger everywhere, even on Eliean, but Mathilde meets a kind family who takes her to a refugee camp to wait until she is eventually reunited with the other Sofarende kids and adults in her unit.

Once reunited with them, Mathilde waits to see if she will be punished for what she did before leaving Sofarende. And, even worse, her best friend Megs refuses to speak to her or even look at her for reasons Matilde can’t figure out, yet everyone else is as friendly as they had always been. Meanwhile, as Sofarende falls to the constant bombing of its enemy Tyssia, Mathilde works on maps to determine where their air force should drop their bombs in Sofarende in order to drive out the Tyssians.

While Mathilde tries to deal with some of the moral and ethical issues inherent in her war work and war in general, she must also come to terms with loss on several levels. Surprisingly, she gets help from an unexpected source, and moral support from others. All Mathilde really wants is to be best friends with Megs again, and to return to her beloved home and family. But then the horror of war, and the senseless killing and destruction that comes with it are brought home to Mathilde when she is sent to Sofarende on a secret mission. Will this young girl ever find the love and peace she craves?

If you haven’t read Beautiful Blue World, I would recommend doing so, but even if you don’t, you will have no problem reading Threads of Blue. There is enough explanation of the events from the first book embedded in this sequel so you won’t be lost.

The story is told from Mathilde's point of view, though experience has taken some of the innocence out of her stream-of-consciousness observations. She astutely describes life as a refugee living in a camp set up for Sofarenders fleeing their country as the war intensifies: the constant hunger, the inability to wash, the feelings of frustration everyone feels, all while mourning the loss of their country and loved ones. And when she returns to her homeland, she is stunned by the extent of ruin that the war had inflicted. In that respect, the images LaFleur word paints are particularly poignant and so, so very anti-war.   

Along that vein, look closely at the cover image of three children, two boys and a girl wearing a knapsack, who is obviously Mathilde, sitting in a row boat. They couldn't look more innocent, until you look more closely and see the faint shadows of bombs falling on them. This image says so much.

Like Beautiful Blue World, Threads of Blue is a brilliant novel about the ravages of war, but it is also a story about holding on to who you really are even when it causes you trouble, and facing life with bravado, honesty, and hope in a world where none seems to exist. These are two books not to be missed.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was purchased for my personal library.

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