The war is raging through Italy in 1943, and a young Canadian soldier struggles to stay alive. But nothing can dampen his sense of humour—not hunger or horror or the shellfire that doesn’t always miss. Not month after month in the thick of the fight. Tommy is irrepressible.It doesn’t sound like much fun? Well, it is...the way Tommy tells it. Make no mistake. Tommy’s not fiThe war is raging through Italy in 1943, and a young Canadian soldier struggles to stay alive. But nothing can dampen his sense of humour—not hunger or horror or the shellfire that doesn’t always miss. Not month after month in the thick of the fight. Tommy is irrepressible.It doesn’t sound like much fun? Well, it is...the way Tommy tells it. Make no mistake. Tommy’s not fiction. He was a real soldier, and these things happened to him—all of them....
|Number of Pages||:||212 Pages|
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Dodging Shells Reviews
I have already read and enjoyed the author's first book Once More From The Beginning so was looking forward to reading Dodging Shells. I was not disappointed. Tommy is a young Canadian soldier stationed in Italy during WW2, who writes to his twin sister of his experiences. His letters are both funny and poignant and give a genuine insight into what it must have been like to live through and survive very difficult times. He is a wonderful character, and I'd defy any reader not to be rooting for him by the end. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Wendy Bertsch is an engaging and entertaining author and I look forward to reading more from her.
The author gives life to a period of time I know very little about—World War II, the brave 48th Canadian Highlanders “boots on the ground” fighting force. When I finished “Dodging Shells” I was in awe of these men. I felt I had a glimmer of understanding about what they endured, although I would never claim to truly understand a warrior’s experience.The story is told through a series of letters from Tommy to his twin sister back in Canada, “Kath.” The very first letter starts off with a bang as Tommy informs his sister he’s been shot. He goes on to request some knitted doodad he can use as a battle decoration for his shirt, since he’s pretty sure he won’t get an official award. Throughout the book, I felt that Tommy's concern was for his sister. He wrote this way to lighten the mood, to calm her fears for him, to give her hope for him. Though he was the one in constant danger, he worried for her, safely at home.Tommy’s tongue-in-cheek humor never, ever fails in this book, a book I would describe as profound and hilarious, first hand insight into what it was like to be on the ground, involved dead center in this war, day and night, night and day, summer and winter. Even when Tommy is being shot at, he never loses his sense of humor. The reader is right there with him on every page, running, marching, drenched, cold, hot and wounded. Even as he dodges exploding German shells, Tommy makes jokes. He sees everything, every experience, as an adventure, and I learned a lot from this attitude about “perspective.” Because every now and then, just enough to vividly portray the dichotomy of it all, through the humor, through the jokes and wine guzzling, the ogling of beautiful women and the primitive conditions, even as Tommy and his comrades march, fight, drink, dig holes and dodge shells, here and there are brief interjections which bring reality home: for instance, of using swollen corpses to support gun barrels and aim with accuracy, and brothers-in-arms with limbs or even entire torsos shot away. War is no fun, but humor can help you keep your sanity.Tommy is an engaging, merry, witty man, a true “sympathetic protagonist” readers can easily fall a little in love with. He’s brave, reckless, and very human.An all around great read.
The author has vividly written in epistolary form a young man's World War II experience fighting in Sicily and up through Italy with the 148th Highlanders of Canada. It is well-written and visual. You are beside Tommy as he tries to keep his sense of the ridiculous, fighting in issued khaki shorts in mud and rain, hoping the winter uniforms catch up to his unit soon; wearing down his boot soles, so that a nail digs into his foot; occasionally getting a warm shower from a bath truck. Always hungry; always weary; under constant fire as the Allies and, sometimes it seems to him, the Canadians alone, push the Germans north. He is the Canadian Soldier Everyman with the red patch. He is wounded, but he fights on. He is wounded again, convalesces in north Africa, then returns to his unit to fight more. He deals with the horrors of war - the bloated dead bodies of the enemy, the loss of buddies, the burial details, his own possible mortality -- by fastening on to the silly bits he writes home about. His unit searches for wine as it moves through Italian villages. He attempts to make rice pudding in a can over a fire. He watches a mule circling inside a large vat of wine grapes, stomping the grapes and urinating on them. And much more. Highly recommended for the reader of war fiction or nonfiction. You won't forget this soldier's experiences.Author of The Wolf's Sun A Devil Singing Small
There have been few occasions when I have envied the ability of the author of the book I am reviewing -- actual, green-eyed, spitting envy. Dodging Shells has effortlessly claimed top place in that group and has motivated me to try harder in my own writing. I freely admit I can offer no constructive criticism for improvement.The first chapter, or letter, is brilliantly written; descriptive, graphic, honing the reader's interest with consummate skill in the manner in which our scribe makes himself known to us; self-deprecating, wry, humorous, imbued with an independent spirit and possessor of all the human faults and virtues that the we expect in our literary heroes. With the background of wartime Italy and the allies' dogged advance up the boot the author has truly captured the essence of those difficult times, and Canada's contribution, of almost seventy years ago, with a realism and skill that makes for a absolute pearl of a read.Robert Davidson. The Tuzla Run
There will probably never be a better war story than All Quiet on the Western Front, but Dodging Shells deserves to be on the same shelf. Ms. Bertsch has produced an extraordinary piece of work with this WWII tale told as a series of letters from a Canadian soldier to his twin sister. It’s a poignant, funny, honest and brilliant way to tell the story of the author’s father’s experiences as he and his Canadian comrades in arms fought their way from Sicily to northern Italy. Sometimes Corporal, sometimes Private Tommy Smith had a checkered military career fraught with chronic hunger, discomfort, disasters and constant danger which he candidly shares with sis. This isn’t just a war story, it’s a human story, and a world class piece of literature.