Jason Hewitt's Devastation Road is a chilling vision of the impact of war, the human toll when millions of lives are left without food or homes, separated from loved ones, struggling to survive. It is a mystery, a love story and a revelation of war's human cost.
A British soldier finds himself lost and without memory. His clothes don't fit. He has a button in his pocket, a torn piece of silky fabric, and a pain in his side. Snatches of images arise from his past but he can't construct them into a narrative.
He is in the company of a young Czech. As the boy leads him across a landscape of ruin they see war's legacy: utter devastation, starvation, the loss of moral codes or legal order, roads clogged with people on the move, a land where people will do anything to survive.
The soldier is moved to save a baby abandoned along the roadside. The mother follows and later joins them, saying she seeks the baby's father to give the baby to him. She is a victim of rape.
The book gains momentum. The soldier discovers he is not who he thinks he is, but also learns that the stories his companions tell are also fictions. The reader will be caught up in the story to learn the mystery behind these characters.
Hewitt has drawn upon historical events and places, bringing to light the destruction of Czechoslovakian during WWII. The camps, the resistance groups, and especially the millions displaced by war were all too real.
I love how new books about WWII are focusing on lesser-known aspects of the war. Some I have read include Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelley on Polish girls who became victims of Nazi experiments, Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleeves about both the London homefront and the embattled soldiers on Malta, War & Turpentine by Stephen Hertmans on The Rape of Belgium, and A Pledge of Silence by Florence Solomon about nurses in Manila taken prisoners of war.
Devastation Road reminds us of the human cost of war, any war, every war. I will not soon forget the images of a country destroyed and the suffering of millions who lost everything.
I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
Little, Brown & Company
Publication July 3, 2017