Skip to main content

The Bombs That Brought Us Together

Review

The Bombs That Brought Us Together

Charlie has spent the entire 14 years of his life in Little Town, a fictional location that borders Old Country. Little Town has developed a firm set of rules --- no drinking, no skipping school, no violating the curfew --- which were created to keep its members safe and to ensure a more harmonious society. Charlie understands the rules and gives us insight as to why and how to interpret each of the rules.
 
Little Town and Old Country provide a backdrop for the struggles between two neighboring countries that hold a deep disdain for each other and are at conflict. Old Country feels that they should take control of Little Country and they flood Little Country with soldiers and bombs. An unwelcome stream of refugees crosses the border into Little Town.

"Although Little Town and Old Country were created by the author, they do feel like actual neighboring communities involved in conflict. I could see readers who enjoy historical and dystopian fiction really grabbing onto THE BOMBS THAT BROUGHT US TOGETHER."

When a refugee family from Old Country relocates to Charlie’s neighborhood, Charlie befriends their son, Pavel. Brian Conaghan writes Charlie and Pavel as having the typical experiences of 14-year olds, such as having a crush, fitting in and being bullied. But since their communities are in chaos, they are also put into situations where they have to make decisions that are not so easy.
 
As his friendship with Pavel develops, it leads Charlie to challenge and go against the rules of Little Town, for which the consequences are dire. Like with other dystopian themes, it also becomes clear that the rules have made daily life more tedious and less tolerant of differences. A good lead character often has to confront the rules, just as Charlie does.
 
Although Little Town and Old Country were locations created by the author, they do feel like actual neighboring communities that are involved in conflict. We could imagine a number of places in the word right now where this story could be taking place. I would guess that with the massive numbers of refugees leaving both Africa and the Middle East, we will see more and more stories like this.
 
Getting along with people from a country that has invaded yours may not be easy, but we do find it believable that people from opposing sides and from different cultures could get past these barriers and develop meaningful relationships. Charlie and Pavel’s friendship gives us an example of this.
 
Charlie teaches Pavel the local language and the dialogue to feel authentic, with the awkward missteps one makes in conversation when there are very real language and cultural barriers. Since the boys are 14 years old, one can expect strong language. It would probably turn off some readers more than others, but I guess it’s not so unusual for boys of this age to speak and act this way.
 
I could see readers who enjoy historical fiction, war themes and dystopian fiction really grabbing onto THE BOMBS THAT BROUGHT US TOGETHER. However, due to language and content, I would reserve this story for slightly older teen readers.

Reviewed by Alizé J., Teen Board Member on September 19, 2016

The Bombs That Brought Us Together
by Brian Conaghan

  • Publication Date: April 17, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Friendship, Young Adult 11+
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
  • ISBN-10: 1681195453
  • ISBN-13: 9781681195452