When I was growing up war was just the way things were. No one took the time to explain to me that there were other ways to handle attacks from other countries. I remember sitting in my classroom in middle school as the Twin Towers were hit by those planes. We watched the people jumping from the buildings on our tiny bulbous screen hung in the top corner of our classroom. About the time my teacher realized that people were jumping to their death in front of a class of children she turned the TV off.
Knowing what is to come, I found reading the pre-war Holland section difficult. Since this is the true story of a very real man's life, the usual detachment I have as a reader was stripped and I cringed at the tales of Hank's boyhood adventures. If only his life could have continued to be full of pranks and mooning over airplanes.
He has done one of the hardest things an author can do. He's made me love and hate, fear for and cheer, fall in love and then lose it all. He has made me feel. No greater deed can be done than to appeal to what make's us human.