Date Published: October 3, 2019
Book Author: Alan Gratz
Summary reviewed by:
Bachelor of Arts (BA), University Of California, Santa Barbara 2019
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Unearth the untold stories of D-Day in 'Allies' by Alan Gratz, a riveting tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Set against the backdrop of World War II, this gripping narrative unfolds on the historic day of June 6, 1944, as the Allied forces invade German-occupied France. The story follows six adolescent and teenage characters, each with their unique backgrounds and motivations, as they navigate the chaos and violence of war.
Dee Carpenter, an American soldier from Philadelphia, is the protagonist with a secret. Born in Germany, he grapples with his heritage and the fear of his friends discovering his German citizenship. Samira Zadine, an 11-year-old Algerian immigrant in France, aids the French resistance fighters and shows immense courage when her mother is captured by the Nazis. James McKay, a 19-year-old Canadian paratrooper, lands off-target and improvises an attack on a Nazi-held compound, while Bill Richards, a British tank driver, dreams of reaching the French city of Amiens to etch his name beside his father's.
The narrative also introduces Henry Allen, a Black American medic who faces racial discrimination but remains caring and friendly, and Monique Marchand, a 13-year-old French resident who emerges as a competent amateur nurse amidst the chaos. As the day unfolds, these characters face the harsh realities of war, revealing their underlying loyalties, fears, and hopes. 'Allies' is a testament to the human spirit, a tale of courage, sacrifice, and the quest for identity amidst the horrors of war.
Spoilers (click here to reveal spoilers)
As the day of the invasion concludes, the characters' paths converge in Bayeux. Dee, wounded and unable to continue serving, receives medical help and reconciles with Sid, his friend who he feared would be angry upon discovering his German heritage. Instead, Sid, influenced by Dee, spares the lives of the captured Nazi prisoners. Monique and a female reporter disguised as a medic, Dorothy Powell, rescue Dee from a field and treat his wounds. Despite the day's horrors, Dee is inspired by the sacrifice and unity he has witnessed, resolving to become a US citizen if he survives the war.
Dee Carpenter: An American soldier with a secret German heritage, he struggles with his identity but remains loyal to America.
Samira Zadine: An 11-year-old Algerian immigrant in France, she displays immense courage by aiding the French resistance fighters.
James McKay: A Canadian paratrooper who, despite landing off-target, bravely improvises an attack on a Nazi-held compound.
Bill Richards: A British tank driver who dreams of reaching Amiens to etch his name beside his father’s, showing his respect for family legacy.
Henry Allen: A Black American medic who, despite facing racial discrimination, maintains a caring and friendly demeanor.
Monique Marchand: A 13-year-old French resident who emerges as a competent amateur nurse amidst the chaos, demonstrating resilience and compassion.
Identity: The characters grapple with their identities amidst the chaos of war, such as Dee’s struggle with his German heritage.
Sacrifice: The characters make significant sacrifices, like Samira aiding the resistance fighters at the risk of her life.
Discrimination: The theme is explored through Henry Allen’s experiences of racial discrimination within the army.
Solidarity: Despite their diverse backgrounds, the characters unite in their fight against a common enemy, exemplified by their convergence in Bayeux.
Courage: Each character displays courage in their own way, such as James McKay’s improvised attack on a Nazi-held compound.