The Things We Did for Love
by Natasha Farrant
Summary: France: February, 1944.Here, have some adjectives: tragic, heartbreaking, lovely, sweet, sad, infuriating, awesome, haunting, unexpected, shocking, surprising.
As war rages in Europe, teenagers Luc and Arianne fall passionately in love. But German forces are closing in and Luc, desperate to atone for his family's past, is drawn into the dangerous world of the Resistance. Arianne will do almost anything to keep him safe, but someone else is secretly in love with her - someone who will stop at nothing to get rid of his rival...
This book was all of those things.
It doesn't feel like I can talk about this book the way I review other books because of the subject matter. I don't want to talk about how sweet and painful the romance was in all its first-love-in-the-midst-of-war glory, or how much I liked or disliked the characters... because it doesn't feel like those are the important parts of this book.
The characters were fictional, the story was fictional... but it was based on truth - the way things are in the end really happened, the author has just created a fictional version of events that led up to that point.
Books like this, books about war--especially ones based on real wars, real events in history--they show the best and the worst of humanity. This one, it felt like it showed a bit more of the worst. How war can turn men into monsters, killers, traitors. How morals can become a hundred shades of gray when they used to be black and white. How good intentions can have the worst consequences and how heroes sometimes aren't all that heroic if you really see them up close and see the impact their actions have on good people.
But it also shows how even the worst of people are still human and can still find the best in themselves even at their lowest point. And, well, like the title says: it shows the things people will do for love, all kinds of love (love of a country, a cause, a belief, a person - romantic, familial, friendly, neighbourly...).
I'm probably not making much sense, but the book got me thinking about all of that and you might understand more if you read it.
Reading this book, I was really angry at so many of the characters, but then... the way they were, the things they did, it was more realistic that way because people aren't perfect, they screw up - especially under those sorts of circumstances.
The ending of the book - I obviously can't talk about it without spoilers, but it was really unexpected (not the climax of the story, the thing it was all leading up to, but something more subtle, a quiet kind of unexpected following the big shock). It isn't often that a book can surprise me the way this book did, and up until that surprising point, I had just been mostly angry - I hadn't cried, in spite of how tragic it was, until that twist was revealed. That's the part that made the book so good.
Sorry, this review is all over the place and probably didn't make much sense because I was trying really hard to talk about it without spoiling it.
To sum up:
The characters: Awesome, awful (read: realistic).
The plot: Heartbreaking, shocking, great (read: brilliant in a tragic sort of way)
The writing: Lovely (read: uh, that one does what it says on the tin really - the prose was lovely).
Overall: 4.5 stars out of 5 (possibly 5, the rating is only slightly lower because it was third person mostly with multiple characters as the focus and that kind of left me with a... being-kept-at-a-distance kind of feeling with the plot, which is why I only cried in the last few pages of the book and not during the majority of heartwrenching events). It's left me feeling kind of... melancholy.
So, basically: Go read it.
Final note: After reading the book, I looked up the real story that inspired this book. Honestly, the real version of events seemed a lot more brutal, a lot more cruel (and that's saying something, because what happens in the book is beyond awful). After you read the book, you should read the true story.