Some of the most gruesome and the most heroic war novels are those that tell the stories of children and their struggles to survive in the worst conditions. During World War II children were evacuated from English cities to the country to escape the regular bombings during the Battle of Britain. SEPTEMBER 17, however, tells the story of one unlucky group of children sent aboard the City of Benares in a convoy to Canada for the duration of the war. Taking place in 1940 during England’s darkest days, SEPTEMBER 17 fictionalizes in great detail the feelings of fear, excitement and hope of a group of children as they embark on a new life across the Atlantic. The novel’s title refers to the day the ship was torpedoed and most of the crew and children lost their lives, and the following week as different stories of survival slowly unfold. The book deals with the harsh realities of war and does not gloss over the tremendous loss suffered by parents and siblings.
Perfect for the teenage reader interested in history, SEPTEMBER 17 combines historical facts with personal struggle, defeat and eventual survival for a select few. This novel makes a great introduction to further research of World War II or the more personal histories of child evacuees.
[Review by Kent Miller.]