Andi's War

Billi Rosen, Author
Billi Rosen, Author Dutton Books $13.95 (136p) ISBN 978-0-525-44473-2
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
Andi (short for Antigone) and her younger brother Paul have grown accustomed to being ``orphans'' in their Greek village just after World War II. Their parents are members of a communist faction vying for control of the country, while Andi's village is under the tight rule of the Monarchists. Representing the cruelty of that government's rule is the chief of police, ``Old Cyclops,'' and his spoiled, bullying son, Aristo. But feisty, fearless Andi bests Aristo at every turn. Only when Andi is not around does Aristo dare to harm the person she has sworn to protect--Paul. When Greece's civil war finally ends, Andi has paid a terrible price for her fearlessness; the country has shed the innocence it had retained even through World War II. A story-within-a-story, told to Andi by her grandmother, opens the pages of this book; the story piercingly universalizes a civil war's sorrows by casting them in the light of a childhood game gone wrong. The methods of battle in the hills near Andi's village pervade every aspect of daily living--a lump of feta cheese from an elderly shepherd cloaks a message; their mother must slip in and out of their home in the middle of the night to visit as if part of a dream; an absent-minded schoolteacher brings news that the children's fugitive father has found safe harbor. The ending is not easy; neither is war. Rosen's first book contains a stark assessment of the losses. From Stockholm, Andi thinks of her mother, whom she knows is dead: ``She was laid to rest beside Paul in the warm, thyme-scented soil of Greece, in the little cemetery between the mountains and the sea, and it is good to know that nothing will ever separate them again . . . Father says that I'll feel better. . . . But I don't know.'' Little is published in this country about Greek's Civil War, but Rosen's story contains truths--in a spirited melding of ordinary incidents and exceptional circumstances--that make it one of the most vivid books on war to appear in some time. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
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