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First of all, I would like to thank Simon & Schuster for my ARC. And of course, I also want to thank NetGalley for their amazing services.

This was my first Chris Cleave novel, and I am glad to have discovered him at this point. I think Everyone Brave Is Forgiven is his most suitable novel for me. I love everything set during WWII as it was a period in European history (global as well, but mainly European) that cannot be matched in its large scale misery, destruction, and passion. 

The novel introduces the characters of Mary, Alistair, and Zachary and lets them grow on the reader quite naturally. They are driven by different internal forces and desires against the backdrop of war.

Mary is an upper class teenager who joins the war effort by pursuing a teaching job. She is assigned a class comprised of marginalized children; they are not in good health, or mentally challenged, or even children of color. While this plot line creates its own tensions, the main development is the introduction of Zachary, a young black boy in her class.

Then we meet Tom and Alistair. Tom is a school administrator who soon after meeting Mary, starts a relationship with her. Alistair joins the army, partakes in the siege of Malta, and becomes part of a complicated love triangle (or even square) with Tom and Mary.

The novel is slow but very successful in immersing the reader in its character driven narrative. While the setting works well in strengthening the themes of the novel and raising the stakes, the language is its greatest asset. The descriptions are beautifully written, and don’t hold back in the brutal and devastating details. It makes for a perfect read by candlelight by a rainy window – my favorite kind of read!

It’s a definite must for readers who enjoy a good war-setting novel with heartbreaking circumstances and really strong characters.