cover image Adam's War

Adam's War

Sonia Levitin. Dial Books, $13.89 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1507-3

Levitin ( Journey to America ; Escape from Egypt ) offers another unusually thought-provoking novel, this time tackling the irresolvable problem of how best to answer violence and aggression. Adam is having a hard time motivating the other members of his club, the Angels, but when he comes across an empty shack in the local park, he thrills the others with his idea to claim it as their clubhouse. But the Angels' rivals, the Terrestrials, usurp the shack, threaten to beat up the Angels and, finally, throw rocks to chase them off. Adam rallies the Angels by planning a ``war'' against the Terrestrials, but almost immediately he begins to question the use of force. Levitin introduces Adam's doubts subtly: he recoils when one of the Angels feeds his pet snake a live baby mouse; Adam's parents quarrel about whether it is ever appropriate to fight (``People should learn to talk over their differences,'' says Adam's mother, to which his father replies, ``Then how come you're taking that course--self-defense for women.''). As is typical for Levitin, the characters are as complex and commanding as the issues. The outcome of the war is dramatic and unforeseen, and the author gives her story an extra dose of staying power by leaving it up to the reader to judge the wisdom and ethics of Adam's decisions. Ages 8-12. (June)