My Brother’s Keeper

Written by Tom Bradman Tony Bradman
Review by Ann Turnbull

In 1915 young Londoner Alfie joins the army. He’s fifteen, full of patriotic fervour and eager to see action. Despite the rigours of life in the trenches he can’t understand why his three good friends – older, seasoned soldiers – are so cynical about the war. When the chance comes to join a raid on the German trenches, Alfie is the first to volunteer. But from then on his illusions are gradually lost.

This story celebrates comradeship. At just over a hundred pages long, it shows not only the horror and pointlessness of war, but also the love of friends, the jokes, the camaraderie, and the way even the worst situations can bring out the best in people. There is a wealth of detail about life in the trenches, about weapons, uniforms, and the chain of command, and a real sense of time and place in the way the characters behave and speak.

This is a moving and thought-provoking story, easy to read, yet with considerable emotional depth. Highly recommended for age 9+.