cover image I Had Seen Castles

I Had Seen Castles

Cynthia Rylant. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $10.95 (97pp) ISBN 978-0-15-238003-8

Newbery Medalist Rylant has always let her readers slip easily into her characters' hearts and souls. Never before, however, has she so successfully portrayed the thoughts and emotions of a character as she has here. From the very first page, the reader feels like John Dante: 17, idealistic and itching for life to begin--a life outside of Pittsburgh and preferably one that includes Europe and castles. This engaging and utterly believable protagonist gets his new life, but through experiencing the shock of the attack on Pearl Harbor, enlisting in the army to avenge his country, falling in love with a beautiful, singular girl named Ginny, undergoing the hell that is war and discovering how its brutal reality can change so many lives forever. Rylant's story is heartbreaking in its honesty; her controlled, elegant prose lends poignancy to the story's emotional depth. The volume is deceptively slim; this finely drawn novel projects emotional truths to rival those of Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front . A love story, a coming-of-age tale, a book with a passionate anti-war message, I Had Seen Castles is not to be missed. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)