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Review: When the War Came Home by Lesley Parr


The First World War has ended, but it hasn’t gone away.
When Natty has to move to a new village, she meets two young soldiers who are still battling the effects of war. Huw can’t forget the terrible things he’s seen, but Johnny doesn’t even remember who he is.
As Natty tries to keep a secret and unravel a mystery, she finds her own way to fight for what she believes in – and learns that some things should never be forgotten …

This mesmerising historical mystery includes an interactive clue so readers can unravel the mystery alongside the characters.


Lesley Parr’s first book stole my whole heart, so I was eagerly anticipating the release of When the War Came Home, counting down the days to it’s arrival. I admit, I was a little worried I wouldn’t love it as much as Valley, but I did, ohhhh I did!!

I am proudly Welsh, despite having moved out of Wales a long while ago, and reading this book basically just felt like going home. I love all the ‘Welshism’s’ in the language that’s used, every time someone said ‘mun’ I giggled to myself because my mum says it every few minutes! The book captures the essence of the valleys and their inhabitants so perfectly.

Natty was a wonderful lead character, she was kind and intelligent but definitely had her flaws. I did feel sorry for her poor Mam at times, who was clearly trying her best whilst dealing with her own grief. The relationship that Natty struck up with Johnny was just so pure and wholesome to read. The way they both helped each other, without even really realising, just adorable. I also loved how Johnny was able to be so calm and collected, despite having lost pretty much everything.

There are so many other delightful characters gracing these pages, that it’s hard to single them all out. Wonderful Nerys, with her huge heart and boundless enthusiasm. I was quietly cheering her with all her grand plans and ambitions. Poor Huw, recovering from the traumas of war but still holding his head up as high as he can. Nerys’ best friend Owen, who struggles with school because he’s constantly hungry. I could spend endless pages with all of them, and wanted to know more and more.

I don’t read so much about this time period in history, so have a little less knowledge of what it might have been like to live in the UK during this time. Having said that, it felt like Lesley Parr managed to perfectly paint a picture of life in the valleys. Each household and family touched in some way by loss. The beginning of demands for equality for women. The struggle that was all too familiar to find food for the family. Everything leads towards the young reader starting to think about how life was different back then, and hopefully will inspire them to find out a little more.

I really hope that Lesley goes on to write 100’s more books, because the first two are just perfect. I love that they are dealing with some heavy topics, yet still feel like a cwtch in a book. I think it’s pretty obvious that I would heartily recommend these books to everyone, they have pride of place on my middle grade bookshelf.


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