War Stories: Past and Present

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“War Stories” by Gordon Korman follows Trevor, a war fanatic and passionate listener to his great grandfather’s, Jacob Firestone, stories. Private Jacob Firestone was part of the Bravo company, an American unit that helped in the liberation of the small town of Sainte-Régine. He and his friends Leland, Freddie, Beau; a drop-out paratrooper, make their way from Fort Benning in Georgia for basic training to England to cross the English Channel and onto Omaha beach on D-Day. 

When the 75th anniversary of WWII and the proposal of a three week trip across Europe comes into the picture, Trevor is bursting at the seams. He and his great grandfather are planning to retrace his steps from the war to the village of Sainte-Régine, where he is to be honored as a hero and receive a medal. He is the last living member of the Bravo company and is ready to step foot back into France for the first time in 75 years, until Trevor’s father notices threats and comments on social media that supposedly hold the truth of Jacob Firestone’s past.

Korman provides a gate into the reality of WWII, making sure the reader understands the tragedy and the destruction that are severe and serious repercussions from war. Trevor believes that war is serious, but it isn’t all heroism. His father, however, thinks that Trevor’s idea of war is too glamourized. By switching the setting, time period, and perspective, Korman is able to foreshadow to the plot that Trevor exists in by his great grandfather recounting stories from the past during the war. 

During the plot, a split-second reaction is later explained to be a grave mistake, leading the characters to have beef. The Lafleur cousins, Juliette and Phillip; create a group called La Vérité (The Truth) to discourage the Firestones from coming to France and Sainte-Régine. Once the Firestones leave the U.S. and board the ferry across the English Channel, they await them on the other side. After stepping into France, the Lafluers begin to follow the three and along the way, as they send threats, plant a fake bomb reading “it could have been real” in a neatly wrapped package, and chuck a stone through a hotel room window. 

The characters become well developed over the course of the plot, making the reader attached to both Jacob’s friends from the Bravo company and feel negative emotions toward the Lafluer cousins. WWII then becomes the segway to deepening Jacob into a life-like character with real feelings and easily recognizable changes in character from the effects of war. The characters have small flaws, making them relatable to the reader as they fight battles and travel across the expanse of Europe.