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Book Review - Shattered
by Jennifer Armstrong (Editor)
Knopf, 2002
Review by Diana Pederson
Jun 5th 2003

Adults debate the pros and cons of any war their nation engages in.  Few people seem to stop and think about how the war is affecting children.  Shatteredis a collection of twelve stories about children and their behavior and thoughts regarding war.  The United Nations claims that more children than soldiers are killed or maimed during the course of a war.  This fact alone should be enough to make adults stop and think about how their political decisions may affect their children.

The book presents the story of 12 war survivors.  Here are just a few quotes from the various stories.  I am sure these words will make you want to read the book in its entirety if children and war is something you have a deep interest in.

Palestinian Refugee: 

"The fear of being burned by bombardment had hardened into coal in our hearts. And the piercing sirens made certain we understood that we could not leave the shelter before the war ended.

But we don't know how long this war will last.  And Tomorrow, the third day is coming.  It's only a few hours away from our shelter.  It's heading toward us like an armed robber.  We don't know what it will take away from us and whom it will injure or kill when it arrives thirsty at sunrise. We don't know how our lives will be altered.  We can only imagine. [page 13]"

The Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1980

"In the weeks that followed, the helicopters came three more times, dropping from their underbellies a form of death that was unspeakable.  Scattered about the hillsides were toys, cameras, and watches--gifts that families in our village longed for but could never afford.  Amina warned us to touch nothing on the ground.  Every mother warned her children.

But one day, two boys slipped away when their mothers were not watching.  They climbed up into the hills, avoiding the places where Hedayat and Hassan and the others stood guard.  Mahsood, who was my age, picked up a wristwatch he found lying under a small bush.  He reasoned that it could not have fallen from the sky and landed under a bush, and that it must be a real watch.  The next instant the watch exploded, shattering his hands and putting out his eyes." [page 119; Hassan was only 12 but was responsible for his 5 brothers and sisters after the death of their parents.]

U.S. Civil War

"All that was left was not pools of water in the sun, but piles of dead and dying men, some crying out for their mothers with their last breaths.  The firing had stopped as soon as the last of the men in Union blue went down. The Rebs were short of ammunition like always." [page 123]


War leaves children parentless, homeless, traumatized, stronger, weaker, etc.  Children impacted with war become adults impacted by war.  No one, child or adult, will ever get over the horrors of war completely.  Even children who see someone become a draft dodger (Viet Nam particularly) or a "witness" to prevent other governments from wartime atrocities are impacted by the horrible unknown called "war."


This book is easy reading if you are only considering the writing style, use of language and grammar.  It is very difficult reading when you consider that these stories are about children and war.  I don't know how anyone can read this without feeling intense emotion that any child should have to live with these memories.


© 2003 Diana Pederson


Diana Pederson lives in Lansing, Michigan.