A Boy at War: A Novel of Pearl Harbor [NOOK Book]

Overview

They rowed hard, away from the battleships and the bombs. Water sprayed over them. The rowboat pitched one way and then the other. Then, before his eyes, the Arizona lifted up out of the water. That enormous battleship bounced up in the air like a rubber ball and split apart. Fire burst out of the ship. A geyser of water shot into the air and came crashing down. Adam was almost thrown out of the rowboat. He clung to the seat as it swung around. He saw blue skies and the glittering city. The boat swung back again,...
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A Boy at War: A Novel of Pearl Harbor

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Overview

They rowed hard, away from the battleships and the bombs. Water sprayed over them. The rowboat pitched one way and then the other. Then, before his eyes, the Arizona lifted up out of the water. That enormous battleship bounced up in the air like a rubber ball and split apart. Fire burst out of the ship. A geyser of water shot into the air and came crashing down. Adam was almost thrown out of the rowboat. He clung to the seat as it swung around. He saw blue skies and the glittering city. The boat swung back again, and he saw black clouds, and the Arizona, his father's ship, sinking beneath the water.

-- from A Boy at War

"He kept looking up, afraid the planes would come back. The sky was obscured by black smoke....It was all unreal: the battleships half sunk, the bullet holes in the boat, Davi and Martin in the water."

December 7, 1941:

On a quiet Sunday morning, while Adam and his friends are fishing near Honolulu, a surprise attack by Japanese bombers destroys the fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Even as Adam struggles to survive the sudden chaos all around him, and as his friends endure the brunt of the attack, a greater concern hangs over his head: Adam's father, a navy lieutenant, was stationed on the USS Arizona when the bombs fell. During the subsequent days Adam -- not yet a man, but no longer a boy -- is caught up in the war as he desperately tries to make sense of what happened to his friends and to find news of his father.

Harry Mazer, whose autobiographical novel, The Last Mission, brought the European side of World War II to vivid life, now turns to the Pacific theater and how the impact of war can alter young lives forever.

While fishing with his friends off Honolulu on December 7, 1941, teenaged Adam is caught in the midst of the Japanese attack and through the chaos of the subsequent days tries to find his father, a naval officer who was serving on the U.S.S. Arizona when the bombs fell.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A 14-year-old boy, newly arrived in 1941 Hawaii, witnesses the attack on Pearl Harbor. In a starred review, PW said, "Mazer successfully fuses a strong portrayal of Adam's transformation with both a vivid account of the attack and subtle suggestions of the complexities of Japanese-American relations as played out in particular lives." Ages 10-14. (Nov.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Mazer's (The Last Mission) taut adventure adopts the perspective of a 14-year-old newly arrived in Hawaii to capture the chaos surrounding the unexpected attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Adam is fishing near Pearl Harbor when the bombs are dropped. "That sounds so real," he says to himself at the first explosions, not yet believing the planes and noise are not part of a war exercise or maybe a movie. Taken for a navy man, he is thrown into the attempts to save lives. As the attack continues, the resulting confusion is reflected in staccato and impressionistic language: "The water around the once-proud battleship was thick with oil, and it stunk. Smoke and filth. Life rafts, pieces of boats, and men floundered in the watery debris.... A foot, an arm. He saw everything through a red haze. He ran. He slipped in blood." As the turmoil subsides, the effect on Adam of a "whole life lived in that one day" is immediate and profound. A day earlier he was struggling to measure himself against his navy lieutenant father, only to lose his father in the sunken USS Arizona and become a man himself. Mazer successfully fuses a strong portrayal of Adam's transformation with both a vivid account of the attack and subtle suggestions of the complexities of Japanese-American relations as played out in particular lives. Expert work. Ages 10-14. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Adam and his family have just moved to Honolulu. His father is an officer on the U.S.S. Arizona and is very much a spit-and-polish kind of man. He is also the kind of man who does not want his son to be seen hanging around with a Japanese boy. Adam has made friends with a Nisei boy, Davi. Davi's parents came to Hawaii from Japan but Davi considers himself to be as American as Adam is. Being told that he can't see Davi again is very hard for Adam. Despite his father's words and feeling angry and confused about what to do, Adam finds himself going fishing with Davi and another boy. They go down to the harbor. There, they find a rowboat, and just as they are settling down to fish all hell breaks loose. With horrified eyes they watch Japanese planes bomb Battleship Row. Adam sees his father's ship being attacked and sinking. What follows is a series of nightmarish events. During these events Adam discovers all sorts of things about himself and others, and he is forced to come to some awful conclusions. This touching and sometimes painful story is told through the eyes and heart of a boy searching for a reason for war and suffering. Adam finds himself seeking the love and recognition of his demanding father and also a place for himself in the world. 2002, Aladdin Paperbacks,
— Marya Jansen-Gruber
VOYA
Living with his family in Honolulu, fourteen-year-old Adam Pelko is proud of his father, a lieutenant serving on the battleship Arizona. Adam is not happy, however, with his father's command that he abandon his new friendship with his Nisei friend, Davi. Adam has promised to go fishing with Davi, and on the morning of December 7, 1941, he is in a rowboat with Davi and Davi's friend when the Japanese attack the American fleet. Adam sees the Arizona sink just before the boys' rowboat is hit. Events are viewed from Adam's perspective as he sees the death and destruction around him. After rescuing his friends, he is mistaken in the confusion for a sailor and is commandeered to save sailors from destroyed battleships. Mazer gives a sense of what it was like to be at Pearl Harbor as bombs fell and sailors, burned and covered in oil, floundered in the sea. An epilogue provides statistics on the logistics of the attack, describes anti-Japanese attitudes, and records the bravery of the all-Hawaiian 42nd Regimental Combat Team. In reproducing the credo of correct, stiff-upper-lip military demeanor in his representation of a naval family, Mazer's treatment of relationships and bereavement seems a little flat and lacking emotion. This short novel might appeal to reluctant readers and could be linked in booktalks with Graham Salisbury's Under the Blood-Red Sun (Delacorte, 1994/VOYA October 1994). VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, Simon & Schuster, 112p, Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Hilary Crew SOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
KLIATT
Fourteen-year-old Adam has lived on military bases all over the U.S. as the proud son of a navy lieutenant. Now, in 1941, Adam's family has moved to Hawaii, where his father is stationed on the battleship Arizona, moored in Pearl Harbor. Adam is starting at a new school once again, and there he meets Davi, a Japanese-American boy. The two become friends, and Adam joins Davi early one morning to go fishing in Pearl Harbor—the fateful morning of Dec. 7. The boys are caught in the middle of the Japanese attack on the American fleet, and Adam watches as his father's ship goes up in flames. Grazed by a bullet but not seriously hurt, Adam gets mistaken for a sailor and pressed into service as a volunteer, and he does what he can to help in the midst of terrible tragedy and chaos. His mother and sister are safe, but there is no sign of his father, and they hope against hope that he is still alive. Meanwhile, Davi survives the attack, but his father, who is Japanese, is taken away and locked up. Confronting prejudice (in himself and in others), loss, and grief, Adam experiences "a whole life lived in that one day." This brief but powerful novel conveys the devastation, both physical and emotional, wrought by the surprise attack, as experienced by a young teenager. Mazer, the author of The Last Mission and many other books for YAs, drew on his own memories of WW II, and he succeeds in evoking the action and horror of war. A worthy companion to studies of the war, and a good choice for reluctant readers, because it moves so swiftly and covers such a dramatic and important historical event. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2001, Simon & Schuster, 112p,$15.00. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; May 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 3)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-Adam Pelko has lived for only two weeks in Honolulu, where his father is an officer assigned to the USS Arizona in nearby Pearl Harbor. When he befriends Davi Mori, a high school classmate whose parents are Japanese, Adam's rigid father forbids him to associate with Davi, fearing that the anti-Japanese sentiment so rampant on the island will tarnish the Pelko family and Lieutenant Pelko's navy career. When his father is called back to the ship unexpectedly, Adam slips away from his house the following morning-December 7, 1941-to go fishing with Davi and another classmate. Rowing close to the fleet in Pearl Harbor, they witness the horrific Japanese air attack and are nearly killed themselves, their boat shot from beneath them by a low-flying fighter plane. Desperate to reach home and find out if his father is alive, Adam is spotted by an officer who mistakes him for a young enlisted man and orders him into action to help rescue survivors and restore order. Before the day is out, Adam proves himself a hero, bravely confronting death and destruction as he struggles to learn his father's fate. Mazer's final chapters leave a few issues unresolved, but his story's quick pace, graphic detail, and nonstop action will keep readers involved. Expect this novel to be in high demand after the blockbuster film Pearl Harbor arrives in the theaters this summer, generating a new wave of interest in this dramatic episode in history.-William McLoughlin, Brookside School, Worthington, OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In November of 1941, Adam Pelko is in yet another new high school. He's a military brat; his father is a naval officer recently assigned to the U.S.S. Arizona and stationed in Pearl Harbor. Adam's father is a spit-and-polish lieutenant who inspects the dust on the shelves and the wrinkles in the sheets in Adam's bedroom. When Davi Mori, a classmate whose father was born in Japan, invites him to go fishing early Sunday morning, December 7th, Adam disobeys his father. "This is a military family," his father reminds him, and his son's friendship with someone Japanese would have a negative influence on the father's career. Nonetheless, the two boys, along with a Hawaiian classmate, find themselves in a boat, watching in stunned amazement as the Japanese planes bomb and nearly destroy the American fleet. Adam, though slightly wounded, goes to the docks to look for his father. Somewhat improbably, he ends up wearing a navy uniform and carrying a rifle as he helps rescue sailors and guard the road in case of a land invasion. He eventually gets home and waits futilely with his mother and little sister until his father is declared officially missing-in-action and the family is evacuated back to the mainland. This holds the promise of an exciting tale, but Mazer does not fully develop his themes of father-son conflict, and there is a stilted, wooden quality to the writing as he tries to convey the horror and shock of the attack. Graham Salisbury's Under the Blood Red Sun (1995) is a much more fully developed tale, set in the same locale, and Janet Taylor Lisle's The Art of Keeping Cool (2000) is a more effective and involving story about boys during WWII. Mazer's afterword on Pearl Harborcontains information about the Japanese in America at that time, but unfortunately his story does not effectively involve the reader with the requisite emotional intensity or dramatic narrative. (Historical fiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442472112
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 6/26/2012
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 86,170
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Harry Mazer is the author of many books for young readers, including Please, Somebody Tell Me Who I Am; My Brother Abe; the Boy at War trilogy; The Wild Kid; The Dog in the Freezer; The Island Keeper; and Snow Bound. His books have won numerous honors, including a Horn Book honor and an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults citation. Along with his wife, Norma Fox Mazer, Harry received an ALAN award in 2003 for outstanding contribution to adolescent literature. He lives in Montpelier, Vermont.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 5

"Look," Bea said, holding up her stuffed animal. It was Saturday morning and she was sitting on Adam's bed. "Bear says good morning to Adam."

Bea was still in her nightgown. She slept in an alcove in a corner of their parents' room. Adam's room was off the kitchen. The model planes he'd built hung from the ceiling. They were never still.

Bea pushed her teddy bear in his face. "Bear says time to kiss." Adam put down the model plane he'd been maneuvering and gave Bear an extra-loud kiss. "Stop it." She pinched his nose. "Do you want to play?"

"Surely, little girl." He gave her his newest Japanese fighter plane. "It's called a Zero, and this game is called dogfight."

"I don't like dogs who fight."

"It's not dogs fighting, it's planes fighting each other the way they do it in a war. This is the way we play. You're high, against the sun, so I can't see you till the last second, and you come out of the sun, shooting down at me."

"You don't shoot your brother."

"It's only a game." He moved her arm so her plane was above his. "Make believe you're going to shoot me."

"I can do it," she said, pushing his hand away. "You don't have to show me. Bap! Bap! Bap!"

"Good! See how you're behind me, on my tail? It looks bad for me, but watch this." He sent his navy Corsair into a rolling dive and came back up under the Zero. "You see that? I just blew your plane into a thousand pieces."

"You did not." Bea held her plane up triumphantly. "See, you missed me."

"Okay, test time," he said. "What's the Punchbowl?"

"Where we live."

"Do you know it's a dead -- "

"Volcano! I know that already."

"Do you know that Hawaii is built on all dead volcanoesthat came out of the ocean?"

"You told me." She yawned, patting her mouth. "That is so boring."

He picked up another model plane with square-tipped wings. "What's this plane called?"

"I don't know. No fair."

"Grumman Wildcat. It's the navy fighter plane. And this one here, next to it, is a P-40 Curtiss Warhawk. It's the army fighter, and this one's a German Messerschmitt Me 109."

"Which plane is the best?"

"The American planes are always the best."

"We always win," Bea said.

"Hello..." Their mother looked in. "Anybody home? It's time for breakfast."

"We're playing dogfight," Bea said. "Bap, bap, bap! I won, Mommy."

"Is it really time for breakfast, Mom?" Adam asked.

"It's almost time for lunch, kiddo. Let's clear the decks and get this bunk ready for inspection."

When his father was home, their house was a ship. The floors were decks, beds were bunks, windows were portholes, the kitchen was the galley, and if Adam said "bathroom," his father said, "I think you mean the head."

"Your father sees this mess, you're in for a lecture," his mother said.

"And maybe a sock on the behind," Bea said. "And you're going to cry and cry."

"Let me remind you, little girl," Adam said, "boys don't cry."

He lifted her off his bunk, then made it navy style, by the book, everything taut, hospital corners, no wrinkles. His father was still asleep, so his mother would do the inspection. It was their regular Saturday-morning ritual, whether his father was here or not.

When he was ready, he called her, then stood by the door. His mother did a tough inspection. There was always some place he'd forgotten to dust. It was the shelf in the closet this time. When his father did the inspection, he'd bounce a quarter on the bunk and if it didn't bounce high enough for him to catch, Adam would have to tear the bunk apart and make it over again.

After his mother had finished the inspection and he had wiped the shelf, she interrogated him exactly as his father did, even deepening her voice. "Do you appreciate that you have a room of your own, sailor?"

"Yes, sir, I do!"

"I didn't have a room of my own when I was a boy, sailor."

"No, sir, I know that."

His mother stood at attention. She enjoyed this little game they played. "All I ever got for Christmas was a pair of itchy red socks. No model airplanes, no Raleigh racers."

"No, sir," he said. "I know that, sir!"

"Are you thankful for what you have?"

"Yes, sir, I am. I know that I'm one fortunate son of a gun. And I have to give back, I know that, too. Yes, sir, I am a grateful boy."

"Are you mocking me, sailor?"

"Yes, sir!"

"That's going to get you six months of KP, sailor."

In the kitchen a few minutes later, his mother put the yellow cornflakes box on the table with a bowl and a banana. Bea was on the floor playing with Bear. "I want Jell-O, please," she said. Koniko, their Japanese maid, didn't work on the weekends, although she'd be in later to baby-sit Bea. Adam and his parents were going to the movies.

Adam peeled the banana. "What was Dad like when he was my age, Mom?"

"He was a farm boy, and he had to work terribly, terribly hard. If there was work to be done, he got up at five every morning before school. A lot of times he never made it to school. He was the oldest, and your grandpa needed him on the farm. Grandpa couldn't do a lot with just one arm."

Adam's grandfather Pelko had lost an arm in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I. That arm ended just below the elbow. He usually kept a sock over the stump. He could always make Adam jump by wriggling the bare stump in his face.

"Dad ran away from home, didn't he?"

Adam knew the answer, but this was the thing about his father that most fascinated him. His father, so disciplined, so regular, so sober, was once free enough -- or wild enough -- that he left his family and took to the road. Fourteen years old, Adam's age. He had thought about that a lot. That was really brave.

His mother emptied the contents of a Jell-O package into a bowl. "Your father ran away, but he wasn't a bad kid. He joined the navy -- "

" -- And lied about his age," Adam said.

"Your father doesn't lie! I don't like the way you said that, Adam."

"Sorry," he said.

She poured boiling water over the Jell-O. "It wasn't the same as real lying. He wanted the navy. He needed a home. Sometimes life forces you to do things. We don't know how hard his life was, Adam. We can't even imagine it. He had to work like a man from the time he was eight years old. You will never have to make the choices he did."

She stirred the Jell-O. "And what he's accomplished, the position of trust and authority that he's risen to, everything he's achieved -- he did it all by himself. He came up from nothing. Your father -- I have to say it -- your father is an admirable man. Really, a great man."

"Maybe he'll be admirable of the fleet someday."

A flip remark. It just sprang out of his mouth. He really agreed with his mother, his father was admirable, but there was something about his being so admirable that, well, scared Adam. Would he ever be capable of doing what his father did? Could he ever be even half the man his father was?

If his mother caught the admirable pun, she didn't let on. "There might be a war," she said. She refilled the teakettle.

"War with Japan?" he asked.

"Yes." She sighed. "Nobody wants it, but -- "

"Dad wants it."

"What do you mean 'Dad wants it'? What kind of thing is that to say, Adam?"

"I mean that's his job, Mom. That's what all the training exercises are about. Don't worry, we're ready for them."

"Ready is one thing, war is something else."

"You don't have to worry, Mom. There's nothing safer than a battleship. If war comes, Dad's going to be okay."

He made his hand into a gun. War was exciting. It was action. It was ships, planes, and guns. It was being faster and smarter than your enemy. It was defending your country.

"Dad says all that talk in Washington is a waste of time. The Japs want to push us out of the Pacific, but if they try, we're going to knock their heads off."

"Don't say 'Jap,'" his mother said. "It's vulgar."

"Sorry, Mom."

He put his bowl in the sink. He just hoped that if war came, it wouldn't be over too soon. "I'm going out now," he said.

"Get me some papayas first," his mother said.

He stepped out into the garden. The grass was wet and tickled his bare feet. It was December, and there were flowers in the bushes and bird sounds in the air, and everywhere there was the smell of summer. A big, ugly toad sat under the papaya tree. Adam inched his foot toward it. "Buffo," he said, and it jumped away.

He picked a few papayas and brought them in to his mother. "I'll be back at 1800."

"Where are you going?"

Where was he going? He didn't know. "I'm just going to poke around."

"Be home on time. You know your father."

"Don't worry, Mom, I'll be here."

Text copyright © 2001 by Harry Mazer

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Chapter 5

"Look," Bea said, holding up her stuffed animal. It was Saturday morning and she was sitting on Adam's bed. "Bear says good morning to Adam."

Bea was still in her nightgown. She slept in an alcove in a corner of their parents' room. Adam's room was off the kitchen. The model planes he'd built hung from the ceiling. They were never still.

Bea pushed her teddy bear in his face. "Bear says time to kiss." Adam put down the model plane he'd been maneuvering and gave Bear an extra-loud kiss. "Stop it." She pinched his nose. "Do you want to play?"

"Surely, little girl." He gave her his newest Japanese fighter plane. "It's called a Zero, and this game is called dogfight."

"I don't like dogs who fight."

"It's not dogs fighting, it's planes fighting each other the way they do it in a war. This is the way we play. You're high, against the sun, so I can't see you till the last second, and you come out of the sun, shooting down at me."

"You don't shoot your brother."

"It's only a game." He moved her arm so her plane was above his. "Make believe you're going to shoot me."

"I can do it," she said, pushing his hand away. "You don't have to show me. Bap! Bap! Bap!"

"Good! See how you're behind me, on my tail? It looks bad for me, but watch this." He sent his navy Corsair into a rolling dive and came back up under the Zero. "You see that? I just blew your plane into a thousand pieces."

"You did not." Bea held her plane up triumphantly. "See, you missed me."

"Okay, test time," he said. "What's the Punchbowl?"

"Where we live."

"Do you know it's a dead — "

"Volcano! I know that already."

"Do you know that Hawaii is built on all dead volcanoes that came out of the ocean?"

"You told me." She yawned, patting her mouth. "That is so boring."

He picked up another model plane with square-tipped wings. "What's this plane called?"

"I don't know. No fair."

"Grumman Wildcat. It's the navy fighter plane. And this one here, next to it, is a P-40 Curtiss Warhawk. It's the army fighter, and this one's a German Messerschmitt Me 109."

"Which plane is the best?"

"The American planes are always the best."

"We always win," Bea said.

"Hello..." Their mother looked in. "Anybody home? It's time for breakfast."

"We're playing dogfight," Bea said. "Bap, bap, bap! I won, Mommy."

"Is it really time for breakfast, Mom?" Adam asked.

"It's almost time for lunch, kiddo. Let's clear the decks and get this bunk ready for inspection."

When his father was home, their house was a ship. The floors were decks, beds were bunks, windows were portholes, the kitchen was the galley, and if Adam said "bathroom," his father said, "I think you mean the head."

"Your father sees this mess, you're in for a lecture," his mother said.

"And maybe a sock on the behind," Bea said. "And you're going to cry and cry."

"Let me remind you, little girl," Adam said, "boys don't cry."

He lifted her off his bunk, then made it navy style, by the book, everything taut, hospital corners, no wrinkles. His father was still asleep, so his mother would do the inspection. It was their regular Saturday-morning ritual, whether his father was here or not.

When he was ready, he called her, then stood by the door. His mother did a tough inspection. There was always some place he'd forgotten to dust. It was the shelf in the closet this time. When his father did the inspection, he'd bounce a quarter on the bunk and if it didn't bounce high enough for him to catch, Adam would have to tear the bunk apart and make it over again.

After his mother had finished the inspection and he had wiped the shelf, she interrogated him exactly as his father did, even deepening her voice. "Do you appreciate that you have a room of your own, sailor?"

"Yes, sir, I do!"

"I didn't have a room of my own when I was a boy, sailor."

"No, sir, I know that."

His mother stood at attention. She enjoyed this little game they played. "All I ever got for Christmas was a pair of itchy red socks. No model airplanes, no Raleigh racers."

"No, sir," he said. "I know that, sir!"

"Are you thankful for what you have?"

"Yes, sir, I am. I know that I'm one fortunate son of a gun. And I have to give back, I know that, too. Yes, sir, I am a grateful boy."

"Are you mocking me, sailor?"

"Yes, sir!"

"That's going to get you six months of KP, sailor."

In the kitchen a few minutes later, his mother put the yellow cornflakes box on the table with a bowl and a banana. Bea was on the floor playing with Bear. "I want Jell-O, please," she said. Koniko, their Japanese maid, didn't work on the weekends, although she'd be in later to baby-sit Bea. Adam and his parents were going to the movies.

Adam peeled the banana. "What was Dad like when he was my age, Mom?"

"He was a farm boy, and he had to work terribly, terribly hard. If there was work to be done, he got up at five every morning before school. A lot of times he never made it to school. He was the oldest, and your grandpa needed him on the farm. Grandpa couldn't do a lot with just one arm."

Adam's grandfather Pelko had lost an arm in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I. That arm ended just below the elbow. He usually kept a sock over the stump. He could always make Adam jump by wriggling the bare stump in his face.

"Dad ran away from home, didn't he?"

Adam knew the answer, but this was the thing about his father that most fascinated him. His father, so disciplined, so regular, so sober, was once free enough — or wild enough — that he left his family and took to the road. Fourteen years old, Adam's age. He had thought about that a lot. That was really brave.

His mother emptied the contents of a Jell-O package into a bowl. "Your father ran away, but he wasn't a bad kid. He joined the navy — "

" — And lied about his age," Adam said.

"Your father doesn't lie! I don't like the way you said that, Adam."

"Sorry," he said.

She poured boiling water over the Jell-O. "It wasn't the same as real lying. He wanted the navy. He needed a home. Sometimes life forces you to do things. We don't know how hard his life was, Adam. We can't even imagine it. He had to work like a man from the time he was eight years old. You will never have to make the choices he did."

She stirred the Jell-O. "And what he's accomplished, the position of trust and authority that he's risen to, everything he's achieved — he did it all by himself. He came up from nothing. Your father — I have to say it — your father is an admirable man. Really, a great man."

"Maybe he'll be admirable of the fleet someday."

A flip remark. It just sprang out of his mouth. He really agreed with his mother, his father was admirable, but there was something about his being so admirable that, well, scared Adam. Would he ever be capable of doing what his father did? Could he ever be even half the man his father was?

If his mother caught the admirable pun, she didn't let on. "There might be a war," she said. She refilled the teakettle.

"War with Japan?" he asked.

"Yes." She sighed. "Nobody wants it, but — "

"Dad wants it."

"What do you mean 'Dad wants it'? What kind of thing is that to say, Adam?"

"I mean that's his job, Mom. That's what all the training exercises are about. Don't worry, we're ready for them."

"Ready is one thing, war is something else."

"You don't have to worry, Mom. There's nothing safer than a battleship. If war comes, Dad's going to be okay."

He made his hand into a gun. War was exciting. It was action. It was ships, planes, and guns. It was being faster and smarter than your enemy. It was defending your country.

"Dad says all that talk in Washington is a waste of time. The Japs want to push us out of the Pacific, but if they try, we're going to knock their heads off."

"Don't say 'Jap,'" his mother said. "It's vulgar."

"Sorry, Mom."

He put his bowl in the sink. He just hoped that if war came, it wouldn't be over too soon. "I'm going out now," he said.

"Get me some papayas first," his mother said.

He stepped out into the garden. The grass was wet and tickled his bare feet. It was December, and there were flowers in the bushes and bird sounds in the air, and everywhere there was the smell of summer. A big, ugly toad sat under the papaya tree. Adam inched his foot toward it. "Buffo," he said, and it jumped away.

He picked a few papayas and brought them in to his mother. "I'll be back at 1800."

"Where are you going?"

Where was he going? He didn't know. "I'm just going to poke around."

"Be home on time. You know your father."

"Don't worry, Mom, I'll be here."

Text copyright © 2001 by Harry Mazer

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 43 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 18, 2013

    Book Review Outline Book title and author: A Boy at War, Harry

    Book Review Outline
    Book title and author: A Boy at War, Harry Mazer
    Title of review: Autumn’s and Emily’s book review
    Number of stars (1 to 5): 4

    Introduction- A boy at war is about the attack on Pearl Harbor. This Boy named Adam has to live in Hawaii with his parents. His dad is in the navy, and his dad’s ship is the Arizona. Adams dad gets called out; he says he will be back tomorrow. The next thing they know Pearl Harbor is getting attacked by the Japanese.

    Description and summary of main points- Adam’s dad told him not to be friends with Davi because his parents are Japanese. Then his dad gets called out to go to the naval base: he tells them that he will be back tomorrow. Then the attack started and Adam and Davi were fishing. Adam loses his friend Davi for a little bit because Adam tries to push his off the boat during the attack. After the attack Adam sees this marine Sargent. The Marine Sargent takes them back to the base and gets them dressed and gives them guns. Then they go out and start shooting. Adam thinks about leaving the whole time. He does.

    Evaluation- Adam was devastated when his mom said that they had to move he thought they were leaving his dad there. He said his dad was still alive. Before they knew they were leaving Adam left a note to his mom and said “Gone to find out about dad. Don’t worry. I won’t do anything stupid.” When they had to leave Adam said “Mom, I’m going to stay here.” Although he did not stay in Hawaii, he had to go with his mother and Bea. The characters in the book are Adam, Davi, His mom and dad, Bea, The maid. This book is like a war theme because of the attack. This attack devastated thousands of people. It is a big deal because it killed millions of Americans.

    Conclusion- A boy at war is about the attack on Pearl Harbor. A Boy named Adam has to live in Hawaii with his parents, because his dad is in the navy. They get attacked by the Japanese.

    Your final review- If you are thinking about reading this book I think you should. This is a good book to read. It makes you wonder what you are going to find out about what all happened. Especially about Adam’s dad. This book turns out to be good.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A very sad story

    A Boy At War will surprise you but it is a very sad book. Adam is a boy whose dad is in the American military. They move to Hawaii. He goes on a fishing trip with his new friend Davi, and watches the bombing on Pearl Harbour and sees his father's ship sink. He then goes looking for his father . Will he find him? My favorite bit is when he gets a rifle. If you like guns and war you might like this book . I would recommend this book to people over the age of seven.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 18, 2009

    Boy at War

    Book Review Outline
    Book title and author: Boy a War author unknown
    Title of review: Boy at War
    Number of stars (1 to 5):4


    This book is historical fiction called Boy at War.


    In this book it tells about a young boy, and his best friend who happen to be Japanese. They live in Hawaii in Pearl Harbor. The young boy is there with his family, and his dad is a crew member on the S.S. Arizona. Before the two boys can even say anything plains start to attack, and they are forced away from each other, and things go from bad to worse. Once I started this book I couldn't put it down. This book is full of excitement and adventure.Altogether I give this book a four. It's great for history buffs. I'd recommend this book for grades fifth through seventh.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2014

    Hello

    It was like being in the real thing


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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2013

    Book Review Outline by Garrett Book title and author: A Boy at W

    Book Review Outline by Garrett
    Book title and author: A Boy at War by Harry Mazer
    Title of review: My Opinion on A Boy at War
    Number of stars (1 to 5): 4

    Introduction
    A Boy at War is an interesting book in my opinion. It takes place in early day Honolulu, Hawaii. The main character (Adam) is living a totally different life now, where white people aren’t as welcomed as you would think. Hawaii, at this time, was flooded with Japanese Americans, so if you moved there, especially if you were a Navy boy, you were frowned upon. John was having a good time while he was living in Hawaii, making friends, doing well in school, but then all at once, it started. Japanese planes flew high in the sky, dropping bombs, killing Americans and even their own kind. Sinking ships, destroying buildings, and John saw it all happen, he seen the worst of it, his father’s ship, the Arizona, was hit by a bomb, as it was sinking John couldn’t believe his eyes. He knew that life would never be the same.
    Description and summary of main points
    John is forced to move to Hawaii due to his father being in the Navy. John was making friends, and then all of a sudden bombs appeared, flying out of the air. John’s father’s ship was sunk. John spent the next couple of days trying to find an answer, but in the end, some questions are just not answerable.
    Evaluation
    I argue that this was a well thought out book. It gets down to the main point with everything it says. I would argue that this book would have at least above 3 stars. A Boy at War kind of takes you back in the day, when Japanese would be on American soil but still frown upon white Americans. This book is an outstanding book. I definitely would recommend this to you.
    Conclusion
    A Boy at War is one of the best books I’ve read all year. It really capitalized on the key objectives that John had to operate to find the answers to his father’s missing. This is a really well planned book. I recommend it to all ages.
    Your final review
    A Boy at War, this book takes place in Honolulu, Hawaii. Adam and his family moves there due to his father being in the Navy, which forces him to move a lot. Adam was living a good life now in Hawaii; he was making friends, which was number one on his list. Adam and some buddies had gone fishing; as they were there Adam started to hear a noise. BOOM! Adam looks over; all he can see is Japanese air planes cutting through the wind, dropping bombs. BOOM! Adam hears another bomb, he quickly snaps his head around to look, his father’s ship, the Arizona, had been hit, and sunk. Adam now spends the next couple of days trying to figure out what had happen. Was his father on the ship? If so, was he killed? All answers that Adam would love to know. Read a Boy at War for you to find out what happens in the end for yourself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2013

    Introduction: During the beginning of World War ll, a boy named

    Introduction: During the beginning of World War ll, a boy named Adam Pelko, the main character in the Boy At War. Moved to Honolulu and started attending a new High School. He made friends with a Japanese boy named Davi; they became pretty good friends until… Description and summary of main points: Adam is moved to Honolulu because of his dad James Palko, a Navy man. Adam is use to being moved around a lot. This time he moved because the start of World War ll. Adam didn’t know what was ahead of him, but he is about to find out. Evaluation: It’s a great book. But it has some negatives to it. Such as them leading on through 2 paragraphs, making you think that his father might still be alive. When you know that he has been dead since the bombing. It would have made the book better if his father would have made it and was on shore at the time. Conclusion: Adam is setting in the living room with his mom and they get a letter saying. “The secretary of war desires me to express his deep regret that your husband LT Emory J Pelko has been missing in action at Pearl Harbor since 7, December, 41 confirming letter follows J A Ulio the Adjutant General. Your final review: A Boy at War is a very good book. I would recommend this book to people from the ages 10 and up. Also, for people that enjoy story’s about war. The author describes details very clearly and nice. I just wish that the ending was a little bit different, to where Adams father James would have lived.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2013

    Dora the explorer

    Its about PEARL HARBER

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2013

    Aig fan

    Omg this book was epic!!! I read it for a book club and absolutely loved it!! I recommend this book for ages 8 and up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2012

    Awesome

    Cool

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2012

    A boy at war

    Omg so good read it maany times and it gets better and better

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  • Posted December 4, 2011

    Amazing, touching, powerful novel

    I teach 4th grade and we read this novel every Winter. Out of all the novels we read throughout the year, this one easily becomes the favorite. It is a very well written coming of age story. It easily touches the heart as it explores realities of war, family, friendship, and prejudice. I have dozens of my students, 10 year old boys and girls, seek out the sequels in the series all on their own. The book can be somewhat graphic, but it is realistic and true to history. Yes, boys will like this book, but don't leave out the girls. The internal struggles and growth that Adam goes through with his family and friends are gripping to all genders, as we as experience the history of Pearl Harbor through his eyes. To those who say this book is for people that like war, I have to say that though this book's setting is the historical events surrounding Pearl Harbor, it is the boy and his relationships that the central core of this novel.

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  • Posted September 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This book will knock your socks off...

    This book will knock your socks off. It is so spectacular. There is a boy named Adam his dad is in the navy so they move around loads.He goes on a fishing trip and the hell lets loose . My favourite part of the book is when he drives the jeep. I recommend this book to people who like war. Definitely read this book, it is excellent

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  • Posted September 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Boy At War will glue to your hands and never come off.

    This book is very entertaining and it is about a boy named Adam and his dad is in the military called Lieutenant Pelko. Adam´s dad dies when Adam is fishing.

    My favourite part of this book is when Adam is fishing in Pearl harbour.

    You will love this book if you like gunfire and war.

    I love this book it will blow your socks off.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Sad but good

    A Boy at War is an very interesting book that will knock you out of your socks.

    A Boy at War is about a boy whose dad is a lieutenant in the navy. He has just gone fishing when suddenly the Japanese planes attack and almost totally destroy Pearl Harbor after that he has a great adventure searching for answers for his dad and his friends.

    I love the part where the Japanese planes attack because everything is written in great detail.

    A Boy at War is a wonderful book especially for people who like books based on real things that happened and for people who like amazing adventures with lots of reflections.

    Nothing can beat A Boy at War.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2011

    highly recommended

    I loved this book. it changed the way i look at the bombing on hawaii.i think the ending was really good.If i could read this book agein i would.I like this book because it was suspenceful and it had a known bombing in it. i like nonfictional books because i think its cool to see what really went on there.If you like war and nonfictional book you should read this wonderfull book.

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  • Posted October 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Not So Much of a War Book

    A Boy at War by Harry Mazer tells the story of a young boy named Adam who was raised in a military family and has just moved to Pearl Harbor. He is thrust into a completely different world with new friends to be made, racial boundaries to be conquered, and challenges to be completed. But once Pearl Harbor is bombed by the Japanese, all these things are insignificant. Adam finds himself in the middle of the confusion, terror, and bloody mayhem. He must use all the skills instilled in him by his father to survive, fight, and make it back home. This book was an easy read, and it took me about an hour and a half to finish. I somewhat enjoyed the book, but wish it could have been a little longer to give the ending more of a sense of finality. I thought the book's characters were well developed, and that may be why I didn't put it down. I like war stories, and, while this was a war book, it lacked certain elements of realism. I would have preferred there have been more fighting, but overall it was a good book. I liked how it gave you a look into what the lives of a military family at Pearl Harbor would have been. I would recommend this to teen readers who like war books and are looking for a quick, easy read.

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  • Posted January 14, 2010

    hahahah

    it feel like poop

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  • Posted September 23, 2009

    I Didn't like it

    I didn't really like it, because I thought that it was kind of boring. All it talked about was Adam; what he did, where he was going and how he did it. The story just kind of bored me to death.
    Adam wishes that he could be in the navy like his father but he was too young to join. So he always pretended that he was in the navy with his model warplanes. One day Adam was with his friends fishing near the naval yard when all of a sudden the Japanese attacked the ships.


    I'd recommend this book to people who like to read books about war, and people who like to read books about the navy, and Pearl Harbor. I think that this book was really easy to read because it had big letters, and it also had short chapters.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Boy at War is thrilling, educational story

    I liked when the boy was out in Pearl Harbor, fishing with two friends when the Japanese attacked and how he was caught in the middle of the battle and how they did their best to get to Harbor Shore after being hurt. (11 yr old son)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Boy At War, By Harry Mazer

    I loved reading A Boy At War, It was just like I was at the attack of Pearl Harbor, right there in a fishing boat with my friends! If you want to read about a boy who was at the Pearl Harbor atttack,READ THIS BOOK!!
    -indyflyer
    P.S. This Book Was "Expert Work."

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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