The War Room

Written by Bryan Malessa
Review by Janet Williamson

Born in the 1980s, in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, the adopted home of his East Prussian baker father, Sam is the eldest of three children to be born to his initially loving mother. His brother Carl is psychologically terrorised by their father, whilst Sam is the only one to be physically hit.

His innate curiosity about his father’s life during the war in Europe unearths some unpalatable facts, which Sam does not understand the implications of. His father gives him a book and Sam reads of his involvement in the Hitler Youth, which he cannot forget or forgive himself for. He disappears and the mother turns cold towards Sam, who no longer conforms. He truants and turns to drugs to clear his mind of his ambivalent feelings towards his father, and steals to fuel his habits.

Sam eventually finds Carl again, and each helps to heal the other’s wounds.

Sam’s reunion with Carl is eventually followed by a reunion with their father. Their intimate conversations help Sam to re-evaluate his father’s history and resolves their conflicts, enabling Sam to accept who he is.