Under a War-Torn Sky

( 55 )


When Henry Forester is shot down during a bombing run over France,the World War II pilot finds himself trapped behind enemy lines. In constant danger of discovery by German soldiers, Henry begins a remarkable journey to freedom. Relying on the kindness of strangers, Henry moves from town to town—traveling by moonlight, never asking questions, or even the names of the people who help him along the way. Each day brings him closer to home, yet ...

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Under a War-Torn Sky

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When Henry Forester is shot down during a bombing run over France,the World War II pilot finds himself trapped behind enemy lines. In constant danger of discovery by German soldiers, Henry begins a remarkable journey to freedom. Relying on the kindness of strangers, Henry moves from town to town—traveling by moonlight, never asking questions, or even the names of the people who help him along the way. Each day brings him closer to home, yet every step in enemy territory invites new dangers.

Even as Henry fights for his own life, he quickly grows to realize the peril that surrounds all of the French people, and to admire the courage of the freedom fighters who risk death to protect him. Suspenseful and achingly true, this critically-acclaimed and deeply beloved novel explores the heartbreak of war, the strength of human spirit, and one young man's struggle to protect the things he loves

After his plane is shot down by Hitler's Luftwaffe, nineteen-year-old Henry Forester of Richmond, Virginia, strives to walk across occupied France, with the help of the French Resistance, in hopes of rejoining his unit.

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Editorial Reviews

Connie Fletcher
"It's packed with action, intrigue, and suspense, but this novel celebrates acts of kindness and heroism without glorifying war. American Henry Forester, a young flier with the RAF during World War II, is a complex mix of insecurities, unresolved feelings about his punitive father and heroic aspiration. On his thirteenth bombing mission, he is shot down, having no idea where he has landed. His journey back through Nazi-occupied Europe and his involvement with members of the French Resistance are depicted with chilling realism. Small details (bike wheels in France were made of wood because the Germans had confiscated all the rubber) add both credibility and appeal to this gripping adventure, inspired by stories told to the author by her father. An afterword concerns the resistance movement."
This first novel by L.M. Elliot is an emotional, action-packed gem! Henry Forester is a 19-year-old farm boy far from home. He's a pilot in an American Air Force squadron in Europe fighting the Nazis during WW II. After his plane is shot down during a mission, Henry is alone and terrified in a dangerous land. He manages to meet up with some members of the French Resistance who bravely and cleverly smuggle him across borders and towards freedom. Along the way he encounters many different people, each one touching his life in an important way. Henry grows from a naïve boy to a strong man with a survivor's instincts, experiencing the true complexity of the human spirit. Elliot paints a picture of war that we don't often see, one that is away from the battles, showing life and death in a war-ravaged land. She illustrates through her well-planned story lines how one can prevail through the most adverse of conditions, bringing up many ethical and moral questions. This novel would be an excellent addition to a unit on WW II. It would also make a good choice for literature circles or large group discussions. It engages the reader quickly and takes him or her on an engrossing thrill-ride. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2002, Hyperion, 284p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Erin Lukens Darr
Children's Literature
At age nineteen, Henry Forester is the youngest pilot in his B-24 bomber squadron. Henry and his fellow crew members are sent on a series of dangerous bombing missions over France and Germany. On one such mission Henry's bomber is shot out of the sky. Faced with the frightening reality of being downed behind enemy lines, Henry makes his way toward freedom with the assistance of the French underground. Wounded, hungry, lost and afraid, Henry sees the effects war has on the human spirit. The people who both help and hunt him show themselves to be anything but cardboard cutout characters. Henry experiences relationships with protectors whom he comes to cherish and others who repel him. War, in Henry's eyes, brings out both the worst and the best in people. Through Henry's perspective, we see the physically and spiritually war-torn landscape of World War II Europe. Told as a fictional rendering of the experiences of the author's father, this is a powerful debut novel. Readers should be prepared for realistic scenes portraying the violence of war; but is that not preferable to sugar coating mankind's most destructive actions? Plotted in a fast-paced manner, this is a believable story of adventure and salvation. Readers, young and old, will be touched and moved by this fine book. 2001, Hyperion, $15.99. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-In 1944, 19-year-old Hank is an American pilot flying his 15th bombing mission when his plane is shot down over Alsace, near the Swiss border. Locals assist him in getting to neutral territory. There, a Red Cross doctor advises him to attempt an escape from Europe across France with the help of the French Resistance. Hank's many adventures as he makes his way toward home and freedom comprise the rest of the story. This is a gritty, unblinking look at the horrors that the Nazis visited upon France during the occupation. Hank is a smart, strong, and courageous character who survives under the worst of conditions. He becomes closely acquainted with death as he sees men killed and learns that he, too, must kill in order to survive. As likable as he is, Hank is almost too good to be true. But the real heroes of the story are the French civilians who help Hank and many Allied soldiers like him to escape from the Nazis. There is a fair amount of French mixed into the telling of these stories. While this does lend authenticity, it may prove daunting to readers unfamiliar with the language. The ending seems rather romanticized, but the author's afterword explains that the story is based on some of her own father's experiences. Readers with an interest in warfare and adventure will find a sure winner here. Pair this novel with Don Wulffson's Soldier X (Viking, 2001) for a comparison with life as a young German soldier.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786817535
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 4/28/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 104,544
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

L. M. Elliott (www.LMElliott.com) is the author of a number of picture books and award-winning historical novels, including Under a War-Torn Sky and its sequel, A Troubled Peace; Annie, Between the States; Give Me Liberty; and Flying South. A longtime journalist, Elliott was twice a finalist for the National Magazine Award and recipient of numerous Dateline awards. She is a graduate of Wake Forest University and holds a masters degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina. She lives in northern Virginia with her family.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 55 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 55 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2014

    Henry Forester is one of the many young, American volunteers for

    Henry Forester is one of the many young, American volunteers for the Civil War. He is called in and becomes a pilot for a B-24 plane for the air force. The Germans are taking over and Henry has to hide in many places before he can get back to his house in Virginia. The author made this nonfiction story to tell about how hard it was hiding and living life as an American pilot who escaped the battlefield. L. M. Elliot’s book “Under a War-Torn Sky” helps readers to see the horrible, brutal life as an American prisoner during the Civil War. The book was very good. Henry grew up on a farm in Virginia. He had a hard life having to help with the farm and his father always criticizing him. On his fifteenth mission, his plane is shot down and many of his teammates die. He encounters a German Luftwaffe and they shoot his parachute, making him fall and fracture his ankle very badly. Limping and not knowing which way to go or being able to understand the signs, Henry has to get to England to get back home. He escapes the battlefield and meets many people that will help him. First he acts like a cook, and then he goes on a train and meets Madame Gaulloise and stays with her. Then Madame tells him to get on another train and he goes to a farm house to get forged papers. Next he went through towns and towns until he finds a farm. He stays with the people by the farm until the German soldiers find them. Then he escapes to a town and goes to a church, acting like a woman. He then leaves and goes to a camp and finds one of his teammates. Then he gets caught and finally escapes back home. This book is a really good book, I recommend everyone to read it. Being an American made Henry’s struggle ten times worse. If the soldiers weren’t German, they were French, Dutch, or Swiss. “He didn’t know how many planes he’d seen explode, scattering debris and bodies through the clouds, how many screams of pain he’d tried to ignore during the past few months.” This is a very good nonfiction book, I was amazed at how detailed he was. He showed so many emotions that it made me think of how horrible it must’ve been to be in the war. Reading this story made me feel bad for all of the people who struggled during the times of the war. It was really hard because most of the people didn’t speak English. He only knew a little French from his school studies. The book made me feel the need to give more respect to those who fought and risked their lives for us. I couldn’t compare it with any other books because honestly, I haven’t ever read a book that is as good as this one. It’s a very good story for young people to read, it’s very exciting and daring. The book “Under a War-Torn Sky was a very thrilling and adventurous book about the brutal life of a young man in the war. It took many twists and turns, but it came out good in the end. I was very surprised at some, well most parts of the story. It was rather interesting than boring. I liked the book mostly because it was so detailed and complex. I knew that the Germans were really harsh but when he described how they acted toward him just because he was American, I was utterly shocked. Henry went to many places and met many people while trying to get home; he even became like family to a little boy on the farm, Pierre. In all, the book was incredible, I loved it and I’m only fourteen. I absolutely recommend other kids in middle school to read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2007

    this book is good and recommended

    This book is great and it has a lot of action. That makes it good for any person who likes action. I think that the author did a good job at describing the setting and the events that were happening.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2006

    Terrific Book!

    Wow! I love this book! I just finished reading it moments ago. This is by far one of the best books I have ever read. You will be warmed and touched by Henry's perseverance, simple ness, trust and courage. You will be brought to tears as he undergoes heartache, anguish, disaster and torture. You will learn to love this character that the brilliant L.M. Elliott has created!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2012

    a very touching story

    This is a wonderful book. A must reed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2011

    i recommend this book

    This a great book cause it is about a young man and his troubkles and he gets help by the resecnts i like this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2010

    This book is indescribable! This is a must-read!!!!

    This is one of my absolute favorite books!!! L.M Elliot is my favorite author and this book has an incredible story line. It demonstrates honor, bravery, and loyalty that captivated my attention and has a special place in my heart.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    a review

    i was a n 8th grader when i found this book it let discover stuff that i didnt know about world war 1 like the franch resestance and the gasprol. mrs lm Elliott mad e it biig off this book. this book is amazing she needs to make a series of novles like this book it was very very intresting

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  • Posted October 28, 2009

    Book Reveiw

    Under A War Torn Sky
    L. M. Elliot
    Book Review
    Katy Flax

    Are you in the mood for a good book that is historical fiction? Then this is the book for you! Under a War Torn Sky by L.M. Elliot is a grand book filled with adventure and life. It tells the story of a teenage boy who is in a situation that no one would want to be in. The story is about a teenage boy named Henry who is a pilot during World War II and is getting ready to take off on to his 15th mission. On their way to their destination Henry's plane gets shot down. He jumps out of the plane along with his buddies that were on the plane at that time. Henry gets his parachute shot down and falls to the ground which hurts his ankle. He walks in to a town and meets a old man, and that is how his journey begins.

    Henry travels from place to place meeting new people along the way. He meets a lady,who I personally like the most, he also meets a family that he stays with for a while and learns to love very quickly. He meets a young lady that he has fallen for and soon has to leave her. The ending is my favorite part but I'm not about to give it away because that is for you to find out. I love Under A War Torn Sky and I hope you love it too as you read about history and the journey of a young man who might be fictional but he stands for those who fight for us everyday. I really hope you enjoy this wonderful book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2009

    My Book Review

    Under a War Torn Sky
    Book Review

    The book Under A War Torn Sky takes place during World War 2 in the vision of a 19 year old U.S pilot station in England with others pilots . The pilots one goal is to get to the 25Th mission so that they get to go home but young pilot Henry Forester is on mission 15 which is the unluckiest mission a pilot can get. " What number is this Hank?" the Sargent asked "It's my fifteenth" Henry said quietly. That is the conversation between Henry and the Sargent. After Henry gets told where they where going and he eat probably the last meal untill tomorrow. He gets into the plane out of the blue he flying in the air at 10,000 feet in the air he gets shot down behind enemy lines he meets up with the French Resistance and they try to get him out of France. My opinion is the book is good because L.M Elliot used good dialogue.

    Henry Foster meets a lot of people that try to help him in to Switzerland. The first person he meets is the school teacher that helps him get to a hospital in Berlin to fix his broken foot. Then he meets madam who helps him gets across the border in to Switzerland.Next he meets a young boy named Pierre who hide him in their barn in a wall.Next he with a teenager who likes Louie Armstrong. Now he with the marquise with a girl named Claudette. If i could rate it i would give it 4and 1\2 stars.

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  • Posted October 28, 2009

    Under a War-Torn Sky

    Under a War-Torn Sky
    Julia Boudreau

    Under a War-Torn Sky, by L.M.Elliott, is a historical fiction novel. It is based on a nineteen year old boy named Henry , who is a co-pilot for the American bombing squad. The Nazis have taken over France, Switzerland, and also have full control over all of Germany. Henry has left everything behind in America to help fight in this awful war in Europe, World War II. Henry and many other squadrons on his side are trying to hide from the repulsing Germans attempting to take over the world. Henry has found many kind Frenchmen, trying to help the soldiers hide from the Germans,but he also has many unkind Frenchmen who want to drag him to the Germans for money. He has many fences in his way to freedom.
    I thought this book could be a lot better than it is. I felt that there was too much war and torture. I also thought that there was too much death and depression. After reading the book that is what stayed with me weeks after reading it. I do feel that you can relate to Henry whenever he gets really emotional. All the ups and downs Henry has, you can relate to those also with all you may have gone through in your life. If you could be Henry for the time being would you? I wouldn't be Henry because I dont want to be put in the position to kill or be killed. If you could be one of Henry's close friends would you do that too? I don't think I would want to be one of Henry's good friends because his life is in jeopardy a lot and that would make me really nervous for him and also, if he was gone a lot, we wouldn't get to know each other any better. Lastly, if you could be one of the Frenchmen trying to help the Americans and risk endangering your life for them, would you do it? On that question I might do either, I wouldn't want to help because I wouldn't want to put my life in that kind of danger and I would want to help because it would be helping to save the country they lived in and what I would live in. This book made me consider the price the soldiers pay for the freedom of a people or a country.

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  • Posted October 23, 2009

    Under A War Torn Sky

    Under A War Torn Sky
    by L.M. Elliot
    By,Jordan Harvey

    Do you think history is boring? If so then you will be shocked by reading this historical fiction book Under A War Torn Sky by L.M. Elliot. Its action packed and keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time making you never want to put this book down . This book is heartwarming and makes you think of the people in our history who had to fight just like Henry. This book is fantastic because the author makes the characters seem so realistic. The characters make some mistakes which makes them seem that much more realistic to you. When the characters are in trouble you want to help them so bad because it seems like you have known the characters for a long time.

    This book is about a 19 year old American Pilot who is flying with his squad. Once his plane gets shot down behind enemy lines, it's just the start of some pretty emotional and hard working adventures, fighting to get back home. He meets some nice people who take very good care of him and tries there best to lead him onto his next place to get home. He also meets people who capture him and Henry has to fight to get out of it. But again more nice people who would risk there lives to get him home to his mom his dad and his beautiful one that he loves Patsy.

    If I gave a rating to this book out of five it would definitely be a five! The whole book is great even at the first part of the story. Most books make you read until the middle for it to get exciting but this one started off great! If you want to read a fantastic book that teaches you about our history then read Under A War Torn Sky.

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  • Posted October 23, 2009

    Under a War Torn Sky by L.M. Elliot

    Book Review

    The book Under A War Torn Sky by L.M. Elliot is a great historical fiction novel for teens and young adults. This book has some very interesting facts about World War II. It has lots of action descriptive details. When I am reading it I am always so curious about what is going to happen next.I just want to keep reading and never put it down.
    This book is about a young boy named Henry who is a pilot during World War II.Henry's plane crashes and Henry hurts his leg so he must find a hospital. During Henry's journey to the hospital Henry comes across a french teacher who tries to get Henry off of a boat with German soldiers surrounding it without being caught. When Henry escapes from the soldiers and gets his leg repaired the french teacher sends him off to a wise guy named Uncle Sam, by the end Henry encounters a well educated older french lady, a young pregnant woman, a well educated french lady named Madame, a young boy named Pierre, a young girl named Claudette, a intelligent girl named Patsy, and a farmer who helped him out along his long journey. It is not easy for Henry to survive out in this disaster especially because he is only 19 years old. He has to survive lots of things like a torture chamber, and all the other times he is almost caught or caught by the German and Nazi soldiers.
    Over all this is one of the best books I have ever read. I thought L.M. Elliot did a great job and I will definitely read her other novels. If I had to rate it on a scale of 1-10 I would give it a ten because of its description and all the action. I would recommend it to any one who loves adventures and people who enjoy history it's an amazing book.

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  • Posted September 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    A great book for readers 12-14. Amazing novle and if you like this book you will like the sequel-A troubled peace.

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  • Posted September 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Under a War Torn Sky

    This is a great book to read about WWII, it has true information and facts. This book is thrilling, and adventurous!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2007


    This book is very good if you are looking for an action book. I would not reccomend this title to people who have extensive knowledge about the military or are advanced readers. The book is put at a very low reading level and it seems that the author does not know very much about what he is writing at some points. Despite this the book is very emotional and written decently. Like I said though the book is not intended for older readers due to the lack of complexity. One thing that I did not like about the book was that the ending was EXTREMELY rushed and the B-24 part in the beggining did not last long at all. Fun read for ages 8-13.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2006

    Under a War Torn Sky

    Under a War Torn Sky by L.M. Elliott is a historical fiction book. The book takes place in Europe during World War Two. The plot of the book is a United States bomber pilot is shot down over Europe while on a mission and has to escape without being caught by the Nazis. It tells Henry¿s struggle to get out of Europe and back to the United States alive. It tells about all the French resistances that help him escape. The protagonist of the story is Henry Forester. Henry has a strong personality. He has the personality of a good solder. He never wants to leave any one behind. When they are in the mountains Billy wants to be left to behind, Henry won¿t leave him there. When he is bailing out of the plane he does not want to leave his co pilot Dan behind. He knows how to survive and is smart about how he does things. He knows when to hide from people and which people might help him. The story is written in the first person .You see how it is through Henry¿s eyes. You knew what Henry was thinking when the Nazis were searching through the barn he was hiding in. You don¿t know what the boy was thinking when the Nazis were getting close to him. Henry is telling the story of what happened to him. He is telling how he is surviving while trying to escape. The conflict at the beginning of the book is Henry¿s plane is shot down and his ankle brakes when he lands his parachute. He has to find a person that will take him to the hospital without turning him in. There are many other conflicts in the story. The main conflict in the story is Henry trying to escape from Europe without being caught by the Nazis. Henry uses flashbacks to get through some of the hard times. He thinks of what they used to do back home. He thinks of his girlfriend Patsy who he grew up with. He thinks of going back home and seeing her again. This helps him get through the hard things. When he is worried that he is going to be caught he will think of his family back home. I enjoyed reading Under a War Torn Sky. You would like it if you like a story about a war. It is a great book that keeps you guessing. In the middle there is a conflict that you would never guess. You also won¿t be able to predict the resolution of the conflict. That is why I suggest you read the book. It is a great read and an interesting read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2005

    Megan, 15 year old

    I read this book about a year ago, as it looked good, and I was being forced to check out a book in our school library. I was pleasantly surprised to find this book much more intriguing than the average WWII stories. As most grandfathers you hear about, mine talks about his time upon the ships. He talks of how he sailed through the nights, fearful that this would be their last sunrise. Their ships would be filled with bombs and other supplies, so you can see why this would be dangerous. Though this deals from the perspective of a pilot, it shows the fear, intrigue, and adventure that every soldier would endure. This young adult novel is a must read for any history fanatics, thrillers of adventurers, and any other you can think of.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2005

    Truly Awesome!!

    I was questioning it. But after I started reading I couldn't stop. It had drama and adventure and It is one of my favorite books

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2005

    This was a good book!

    Under a War Torn Sky Hyperion Books,2001,284 pgs.$15.99 L.M. Elliott ISBN 0-7868-2485-9 This is a book about a 19 year old boy named Henry Forrester. Henry is a pilot in the military during WW II , but when he is asked to go on a bombing run to destroy a tank facility, he is shot down over Switzerland. Once he parachutes out of his plane, he lands in a snowdrift and breaks his leg, but then he walks to a near by village where he gets help from a teacher. Henry has to overcome many obstacles and problems that he encounters while he is trying to get to Allied lines. The main characters in this book are Henry and his pilot buddy Billy. While on their way to Spain, a person from the Anti-Nazi group turns them in for money and Billy is shot and killed. Then Henry joins the maquis, so he can help them hunt down the Nazis and get to freedom. L.M. Elliott has written many other books about war and adventures that take place in the past. I think he is a very good writer and he should write more books about adventure and excitement. I recommend this book to anyone who understands French and people who enjoy reading about war and adventure.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2005

    A Unique View of History

    Under a War-Torn Sky is a superb young adult novel. Instead of talking about WWII from the usual battlefield perspective or concentration camp perspective, it gave us a view of the European people who had to endure life under the unwanted Nazi regime. This book gave me a deep respect for the citizens of France who formed the Resistance Movement. There was a whole secret war against Nazi-ism going on in the towns of Europe. I highly recommend this book. I learned a lot through the character's eyes.

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