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Posted March 7, 2012
A real page turner from start to finish, this is an excellent tale of a boy not just surviving harsh circumstances, but thriving into young adulthood. Anyone who is facing or has faced challenges in life will be inspired by its lesson to "use what you find in the trenches."
I should mention that I am not in the target age range, but I would recommend this book for adults as well.
Posted August 8, 2011
I wasn't sure what to think about this book before I started. You may or may not know, I'm not a big fan of historical fiction at all. This book is set in the 1930s - 1940s and has a main character who wants to be a great fencer and I know next to nothing about fencing. I was wondering how I would ever be able to fall in love with a book like this. Let me just say, it drew me in with the first pages and I fell in love almost instantly. I really loved the main character, Cid. We essentially get to see him grow up through some incredibly tough circumstances and he becomes stronger because of it. He had a lot of tenacity and when he set out to accomplish something, he didn't let anything get in his way. His determination and will to succeed was inspirational to see unfold through the course of the story. Cid was the main character, but the other characters were just as important. Tomik and Siggy were Cid's only friends growing up; all three were close, but I felt like Siggy was the more caring and genuine friend. My favorite characters, besides Cid, were definitely Winston Arnolf Leftingsham ("Lefty") and Nikolai Varvarinski. They both played such a huge part in Cid's life, helping him grow as a person and fulfill his dreams. Lefty was a veteran of World War I and along with having his the left half of his body pretty much destroyed, also had lingering effects from mustard gas; it essentially was rotting him from the inside out. As imposing and potentially cruel as he seemed when he first picked up Cid from that orphanage, we see many depths to this character as the story progresses. He thought himself to be almost insane, having to dull his excruciating pain with morphine just to function, just a shell of his former self; every once in a while we get to see the man he once was, before the war. When he first appeared in the book I thought there was no way I would ever like his character or feel anything for him, but I was so wrong. Same goes for Nikolai Varvarinski. Lefty insists that Varvarinski can help Cid with his fencing and so they start training everyday. The Russian is drunk pretty much constantly and when you find out what happened in his past you really can't blame him. He is still a genius when it comes to fencing and with Cid so eager to learn they make a great team. Varvarinski comes off as just a gruff, no-nonsense man, and he is that; but he's also a lot more than that too. It's incredibly hard to describe these characters and the depth they have to them and be able to do them justice; this is just one book you have to read for yourself and you'll know what I mean. I enjoyed everything about this book: the characters, the story line, and the attention to detail. It was very obvious that the author knows a lot about fencing and I felt like I learned a lot just from reading (since I knew nothing about the sport going into this book). A lot of the fencing terms were foreign to me, but they were explained well and then if you are still confused, you can simply refer to the incredibly handy glossary of terms in the back of the book. Honestly, I have nothing bad to say about this book; it was so well written and the story moved along flawlessly. Believe me when I say that this book moved me in ways I wasn't expecting and stayed with me long after I finished reading; I'm not ashamed I teared up a few times. This is certainly a must read for 2011!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 2, 2011
Open Wounds is coming of age story unlike any other. This is due to the incredible 1930's New York setting and the main character, Cedric Wymann. The New York City setting comes to life with the pushcart vendors and Cid's frequent trips to see his favorite films. I could feel how different the city was back then, compared to now. The injustices and the prejudices run rampant in Cid's world, but he doesn't pay them much attention. Cid is too focused on simply making it.
Cid has a tough childhood, a rough adolescence, and complicated teen years. His father is abusive, his grandma hates that he's half Jewish, and his only solace comes with the surprise of making friends in Tomik Kopecky and Siggy Braun. Joe Lunievicz gives us a character to love in Cid. The poor kid can't seem to catch a break and watching him grow up and grow strong despite all the bad that's thrown at him is a pleasure.
When Cid's cousin Lefty takes him from the orphanage, he gets the chance to have a life that he deserves. Lefty is quite the character with his drunken nature, but soft heart. Even though he's not the ideal father figure, he's exactly what Cid needs in his life. And, he's the one who helps Cid find his love for fencing. Their relationship is realistic, especially for the time period. The same goes for Cid's drunken, Russian fencing instructor, Nikolai Varvarinski.
Open Wounds is a sword-fighting, action-packed, emotional, and oftentimes tender, coming-of-age story about a boy who quickly grows into a man. Lunievicz captures the time with his pop culture references and captures the reader's heart with his characters. Cid's childhood follows him into his teen years and seeing Tomik, Siggy, and even the neighborhood bullies come back into play for a final duel is the perfect way to end the book. Boys, girls, teens, and adults alike will be thrilled by Open Wounds and its harsh, but hopeful telling of a boy on his way to becoming a man.
Posted May 4, 2011
Cid's already lived a rough life by the time Lefty takes him from the orphanage. He's spent most of his childhood as his father and grandmother's punching bag, watched most of his neighbors be evicted from their homes, watched his grandmother kill herself to avoid the same, been taken in to a loving home and then left behind. And that's all before he really even hits teenage-hood (and before we hit the 100 page mark). But that's not to say that it's all bad. Cid has two great best friends, Siggy and Tomik, and he goes to the movies, "church," with his grandmother every Saturday. And out of that comes Cid's dream of becoming a fencer.
The bright and the horrible are wonderfully balanced in these opening pages. You never quite forget one while you're reading about the other. And they set things up perfectly for Lefty's grand entrance. The Great War left him horribly disfigured, crippled, and cranky, but life with him gives Cid opportunities he never would have had otherwise. Together they form a little family (aawww - but not that obvious. Lefty and Cid are both way too tough for all that), but more importantly, Lefty sets Cid up with daily fencing lessons with the crazy, drunk Russian on the roof. Once Nikolai gets involved, Open Wounds quickly becomes a sports book. There's training and fighting and sore muscles and exhausted bodies. But there's also stage-fighting with a Shakespeare company, a cute girl, a reunion with Siggy and Tomik, and the reappearance of their childhood bullies. Again, the beautiful balance. There wasn't so much plot that the fencing stopped being important, but at the same time, I never felt lost in a book centered around the practice of a sport I've only seen in movies.
Open Wounds will be a hit with readers who are looking for sports books, but historical fiction and hard-knock-life fans will love it as well.
Book source: ARC provided by the publisher.