The Gang Series: Book One
Amazon UK £2.23 / £9.99
Amazon US $2.74
Amazon CA Kindle $? / $27.86
Young Adult / Adventure / Series
Gang Series #1
Gang Series #1
‘A wartime evacuee's tale of village gangs and first love: When a boy from London finds himself homeless after the orphanage where he lived is bombed during World War II, he is bundled off to the countryside to live with his only relative, a pious spinster aunt he barely knows. Her village of Widdlington would be a peaceful place to live; or so he imagined.
The evacuee desperately seeks to understand his place in a bewildering, strife-filled world. He falls helplessly in love, but it's a passion that seems doomed, because the boy's aunt and the girl's parents are in bitterly opposing religious camps.
He does, however, possess one treasure he's prepared to guard with his life; his go-cart, Lightning. He'd rather burn it than let it fall into the hands of the Nazis, should they invade, and he dares to wrest it back from a rival gang which has stolen it. Humorous yet thought-provoking, the Gang series explores the difficulties and rewards of forging relationships in violent times.’
Gang Territory is the first of a series, and it is captivating from the very first page. The characters are so full of life and have a realism about them that bring the entire book, and their adventures, alive. The innocence of childhood during WWII is well portrayed, it is a time when children – despite air raids and the threat of Nazi invasion – played happily outdoors from dawn until dusk, when gangs were social groups not terrorist organisations (even if the gangs did have rivalries and were always attempting to outwit each other.) These were also the days pre- health and safety, pre-fussing and over-protection. Grazed knees didn’t result in a trip to A & E , conkers were not thought of as dangerous weapons – and go-carts were made from old bits of wood and abandoned pram wheels. Ah, nostalgia isn’t what it used to be!
Cleverly, the author, Peter St John, manages to write an entire story without once mentioning the main character’s name: our ‘hero’ narrates his adventures as if you are there, listening to him and joining in. (I did privately call the lad ‘Peter’ as it seems to me that Mr St John very probably is adapting some of his own wartime evacuee experiences.) The Village too, Widdlington, not far from Ipswich, in Suffolk, becomes as much a character as do the children (and a few adults). I felt I knew every street and alleyway by the time I had finished the book.
Gang Territory is, technically, a Young Adult novel, ideal for boys and girls from about ten years old – particularly for children studying WWII at school it will give a wonderful insight to life as an evacuee, but the story is just as good for us ‘grown-ups’ – Highly Recommended. I look forward to reading the other books in the series.
© Mary Chapple
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