Our War is a book that I sought out after reading and reviewing DiLouie’s One of Us. I was drawn into this book as quickly as his last one.
Premise: Two siblings are are different sides of an American civil war. After 10-year-old Hannah witnesses her mother’s death from a sniper’s bullet, she is taken in by a rebel group, the Free Woman Militia. She’s fed and taught how to shoot and accepts that she is now a part of the fight. Her brother Alex was separated from the family in their escape to Indianapolis and found refuge in the Liberty Tree militia. They are a collection of ex-military and wannabes. He’s taught the skills of war and takes drugs in exchange for spoils of war. To complete the rounded points of view, DiLouie adds an inexperienced UNICEF aid worker named Justine and also, Aubrey, a seasoned reporter from the Indy Chronicle whose job is to show her around.
The tipping point of the local and nation-wide crisis is when the nationalistic, conservative president is impeached but refuses to leave office. Polarization trickles down to local governments and the citizens are forced to pick sides. Both sides are fervent in their ideology and have ready access to guns and resources. The war of the streets ramps up in Indianapolis and it seems that the snipers and the child soldiers, are slowing drifting towards an escalation on the front.
My review in bullets:
- DiLouie’s points of view are key to understanding the various agendas of each faction in the story. Yet, these are not cookie-cutter versions of dogmatic creeds.
- Vivid flashbacks tell the whole story for both Alex and Hannah from the time before the breakdown of the country.
- I particularly enjoyed the character of Aubrey and her work to expose the use of children soldiers to the wider world. But the truth of the press comes in conflict with the money backing a newspaper that is on its last legs. Her editor is more worried about the effect the news will have on the world than getting the word out there about human rights violations.
- There is a measured pacing in the telling of this story. DiLouie allows for the characters to be fleshed out before putting them into the fray… for the most part. There are some cruel twists early on that test the characters. The short chapters help in allowing the reader to learn the most about each character quickly in the exposition.
I fully enjoyed this look into the possibility of another American Civil War. Maybe “enjoyed” is the wrong word… compulsively bleak. Is that a thing? Ok, I liked it.