Lovely War by Julie Berry

This is one of those books with a cover that just called to me. (It’s also one of those covers embracing the white-uppercase-sans-serif-with-stuff-over-it trend.) But still, I went into Lovely War a bit trepidatious—I’m not the biggest historical fiction fan, and I spent a good portion of my time in school history classes daydreaming about being elsewhere.

Well, there was no reason to fear; this book swept me off my feet in a major way. I’d heard some people be confused about the premise, and it is a bit odd, I’ll agree. The book starts off in World War Two times with Aphrodite—yes, the Aphrodite. She, along with some of her other friends from the Greek pantheon, narrates a gripping story from World War One about the intersection of love and war to her aggrieved husband, Hephaestus. He’s caught her cheating on him with Ares, and Aphrodite knows exactly the right tale to tell to explain the situation.

I’ll admit that the Greek god framework does feel a little bit like the leaning tower of Pisa; it’s upright, but some tugging this way or that would cause the whole thing to topple over. However, the love story Aphrodite spins for Hephaestus and the readers is one for the ages. This is a captivating tale that literally moved me to tears, and that is a true once-in-a-blue-moon happening. Berry’s narration is gorgeous; quick chapters and lovable characters will have you make quick work of this 480-page tome.

I’d argue that this is another case of “is it really YA?” (Hmm, sounds like an interesting game show.) It’s certainly being marketed in the YA section, and the tone is perfect for the YA crowd, but the main characters are older as far as I can tell. I’m not exactly sure what their ages were, to be honest—maybe it was mentioned, but I certainly missed it, so I’d guess they’re somewhere from eighteen to early twenties. (“Maybe,” hisses my inner conspiracy theorist, “Berry purposely didn’t mention the main characters’ ages so we can’t get into this whole debate again!”)

Anyway, a good book is a good book, so maybe we should just get past the whole is-it-or-isn’t-it question. I wholeheartedly recommend Lovely War, and I dare you to read it without getting watery in the eyes.

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