I Had Seen Castles

( 11 )

Overview

Just 17 when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, John Duane wants nothing more than to enlist. Then he falls in love with Ginny Burton, who is against all war. But John would rather die than be judged a coward. Fifty years later, John is haunted by memories of 1942--of his family, of Ginny, and of the nightmare that was World War II. "A poignant love story."--Kirkus Reviews.

Now an old man, John is haunted by memories of enlisting to fight in World War II, a decision ...

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Overview

Just 17 when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, John Duane wants nothing more than to enlist. Then he falls in love with Ginny Burton, who is against all war. But John would rather die than be judged a coward. Fifty years later, John is haunted by memories of 1942--of his family, of Ginny, and of the nightmare that was World War II. "A poignant love story."--Kirkus Reviews.

Now an old man, John is haunted by memories of enlisting to fight in World War II, a decision which forced him to face the horrors of war and changed his life forever.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
[star]"Wonderfully spare language and imagery . . . poignant."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

[star]"Tantalizing. . . Rylant writes with passion and hearbreaking honesty."—The New York Times Book Review (starred review)

[star]"Heartbreaking . . . Not to be missed."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Library Journal
First published in 1993, Rylant's spare classic is first and foremost a love story. John Dante is 17 and cannot wait to enlist after bombs rain over Pearl Harbor. As burning as his desire for revenge is his love for Ginny, the beautiful pacifist who tries to convince him not to go. She believes the cost of war is always too high. Fifty years later, an older and wiser John recounts their passion-now lost to history-and concludes, "Ginny, I want you to know that I am really alive. And I still love you." Treat yourself to a bittersweet hour in the company of these two remarkable lovers.—Angelina Benedetti, "35 Going on 13," BookSmack! 8/19/10
Publishers Weekly
An idealistic 17-year-old's life changes dramatically when he enlists in the service, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. According to PW's boxed review, "This finely drawn novel projects emotional truths to rival those of Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. Not to be missed." Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The ALAN Review - Mike Angelotti
This is a powerful, powerful book-one that no one should put off reading. Yes, it is a love story, and it is a loss-of-innocence story. But most dramatically, it is the story of one seventeen-year old's loss of the romanticized outlook on war typical of youth. This story of World War II, which is to me more powerful of its time period than The Red Badge of Courage is of the Civil War. What makes it so compelling is its art, the weaving of a richly colored poetic fiber into its beautifully crafted fiction-a book as close to poetic fiction as I have read: "I could not stay in America because America had not suffered. I needed to be with those whose eyes looked like my own, who had covered their faces and lain in the darkness as bombs fell" (p. 95). The book works. Read it. Bring it to your eleventh and twelfth graders.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152053123
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/28/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 214,545
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.50 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author


Cynthia Rylant is a Newbery Medalist and the author of many acclaimed books for young people. She's well known for her popular characters for early readers, including Mr. Putter & Tabby and Henry and Mudge. She lives near Portland, Oregon. Visit her website at www.cynthiarylant.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(7)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2013

    "I Had Seen Castles" is one of my favorite books. I h

    "I Had Seen Castles" is one of my favorite books. I have given dozens of copies as gifts and received unanimous raves in return from adults as well as adolescents. In under 100 pages readers walk a lifetime with John Dante, from idealistic 17-year-old boy to an adult recalling the youthful choices that shaped his life. A bittersweet, very well written, emotional and psychological story.

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  • Posted September 27, 2010

    A very well written book, a must read.

    "I Had Seen Castles" by Cynthia Rylant is an excellent book that blends love and war in the most thorough way. John is a seventeen year old that wants revenge on the Japanese for their attack on Pearl Harbor. He wants to join the service, but is stuck between two worlds. He meets the girl of his dreams, a seventeen year old named Ginny, and they fall in love with each other. Despite her wishes, he joins the service and is sent to Italy. There, he sees horrifying things that no man should ever see. When the war is over, he cannot bear to live in America as it has not been touched by war, like him. He moves to various countries in his life and finally settles in Toronto as a 67-year old man and says that he still loves Ginny. This book is written with brilliant detail and reflects precise emotion. This book is and always will be one of my favorite books because it is perfect for readers interested in emotional/psychological-based books, I rate it an 8 on a scale of 10, and no larger than 8 because the book was only 90 pages long. Because of the subject matter, I would recommend this book to mature 14 year olds and over.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2008

    Amazing Novel

    I honestly believe that this was one of the best books I have ever read. I would recommend it to everyone, not only to those that want to learn about WWII but honestly everyone. I read this for an english assignment and I had very low expectations but I must say I was wuite impressed with the novel. The imagery was outstanding, and I could not have asked for a better book to read. Read this book if you ever have time. It is only about 90 something pages and it is well worth your time. ENJOY!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2006

    short and boring

    I had seen castles was to me really a bore. As soon as it reached the climax it just fell again. I read this book in less than a day, and to me it made no sence. I usually like reading this genre of books, but this really was a dissapointment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2004

    I had seen castles

    I had to read this book for an english assignment and I honestly did not think I would get into it because I am not one to get into war books, but because it had to do with love and war and a young boy going through all of this in the prime of his life he was a very brave young man not matter how he felt or what he thought. I have only had one family member go away to war and I am happy to say that he is home safely and with his wife. I just really enjoyed this book but wished it could have been a little more longer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2002

    I Had Seen Castles

    I Had Seen Castles by Cynthia Rylant is a good book . It mixed love, and war in an absolutely brilliant way. It is about John Dante, 67, who recalls the summer of 1942, when he was 17 and caughtup in the fervor and excitement of World War II. He describes the changes war brings to his family and of that time period The book is about a young mans struggle to keep himself together in a truly chaotic time. John, the main character is 17, and lives in Pittsburgh during WWII. Angered by the attack on Pearl Harbor he feels its his duty to enlist upon turning 18, into the American army. While waiting to become an adult many things happen in his young life. His friends are dying, his father must leave to California to develop an atomic bomb, his homemaker mother takes a factory job, and his sister must go to live in Ohio because she is pregnant with a soldiers baby. In the mist of all this he meets a girl named Ginny. They start a relationship and fall in love. The only problem is that Ginny is against the war, and John cant wait to jump into it. But not wanting to be thought a coward John must go. During the end of the book john discovers that he is out of place in America and that he must go back to live in France where he fought one of his battlest. He then moves around to Greece and Britain and finally sets down in Toronto, Canada. I think this book is a very good one because it talked about how a mans life was affected during WW2. When I started reading I just couldn¿t put down the book. The good methods of foreshadowing and it being so interesting kept me reading on. 5 stars

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2001

    I Had Seen Castles

    I Had Seen Castles by Cynthia Rylant was a good book for young adults. It mixed love, and war in an absolutely brilliant way. It's about a young mans struggle to keep himself together in a truly chaotic time. John, the main character is 17, and lives in Pittsburgh during WWII. Angered by the attack on Pearl Harbor he feels its his duty to enlist upon turning 18. While waiting to become an adult many things happen. His friends are dying, his father must leave to California to develop an atomic bomb, and his sister must go to live in Ohio because she is pregenant with a soldiers baby. In the mist of all this he meets a girl named Ginny. They start a relationship and fall in love. The only problem is that Ginny is against the war, and John cant wait to jump into it. But not wanting to be thought a coward John must go... The way the book is worded keeps you reading. The reason I didnt give this book 5 stars is because it could have been longer. There also could have been more action. Overall, I would recomend it to all people ages 13 and up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2001

    Story of love and war

    Beautifully written story about love and war and the struggles that come between the two. The sad story of the boy who wanted to go to war so badly but ends up realizing that it was not worth it. Sad story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2001

    Jim's I Had Seen Castles Review

    This was a very good book. It was sort of a love story but it was more about a 17year old boy becoming a man by going in to war. He lost a lot of his family and friends to the war. He lost his dad because his dad had to move to California to work on a top-secret project. He ended up making the nuclear bomb that was droped on Hiroshima. Then he lost his sister because she got pregnant with a soldier that she was married to and was a shamed so she moved to Ohio. He lost his best friend when he died at war. Then he went to war. At war he saw something that he had always dreamed of seeing a castle. Then when he got home he lost his girlfriend. in conclusion this was a very powerful book. I recommend this to all people.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2001

    I Had Seen Castles Review

    I enjoyed this book very much. On a scale of one through five, I would grade it as a Five. It kept me intrigued about what was going to happen next, and also it had historical accuracy. The book explained very well the effects the war had on John,the main character. During the war, Pittsburgh was a major industrial city. I attracted many people, because the coal mines and the steel industry offered many jobs. There was so much industry in and around the city of Pittsburgh that the pollution turned the air black.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2001

    I Had Seen Castles

    This is a very good book. It is kind of a love story but it is more about a 17-year-old kid growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This young man is losing his family and friends to the Holocaust. First he loses his dad because he has to go to California to work on a top-secret project. His dad turned out to be making the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Then he lost his sister when she had to move to Ohio when she got pregnant with a dead man¿s baby. He lost his friends to war. Then he had to go to war. When he got back his girlfriend wasn¿t there. He went to war and became a man. This was a very powerful and good book.

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