Today I’m featuring THE WAR ON ALL FRONTS, an LGBTQ YA historical that takes place during the Vietnam War. Check out my review, along with Kim’s list of top ten addictions, bonus lists of the two MCs’ top ten addictions, and a giveaway of the book!
The War on All Fronts by Kim Oclon
Published by Trism Books on May 7, 2022
Genres: Historical Fiction, LGBTQ+, Young Adult
Source: Purchased, The Publisher
My content rating: YA (War depicted, Language (including LGBT slurs), Nothing more than kissing shown)
An LGBTQ coming of age story about fighting for someone you love, brought to life in this Vietnam War era historical fiction.
It seemed as though Anthony and Sam had just found each other, and now they were already being torn apart. Sam to college in Wisconsin; Anthony across the world fighting in the Vietnam War. Through their separate journeys, they discover themselves, and rely on the one way to share their secret together. Corresponding with secret messages, scary truths, and fears about the war, readers will follow Anthony and Sam’s path to friendship, love, and survival.
This YA LGBT historical fiction novel highlights the turmoil of the Vietnam War and the personal turmoil of living in a world that can’t accept you for who you are.
This book has so many emotional touchpoints. Anthony and Sam have been together for nearly a year, but absolutely no one knows, not even their families. To add to that, Anthony is shipping off to Basic training to serve in the Vietnam War while Sam goes away to college. While the two are apart, they find themselves living vastly different lives. Anthony’s father is a war veteran, and he’s proud to serve his country, but this war is nothing like what he imagined it would be. The brutality of war takes its toll on him. Meanwhile, at UW-Madison, Sam finds himself drawn to the growing anti-war movement, but he feels guilty for “betraying” Anthony (and his own brother, who is serving in the air force). Both Anthony and Sam start to realize that the realities (and politics) of war are far more complicated than they ever imagined.
The battle scenes in this book are powerful, especially because the war is so chaotic and Anthony never knows what to expect (and so neither does the reader). I’ll confess that war stories aren’t typically my favorite genre, but Anthony’s emotional journey is compelling and so is Sam’s burgeoning political awareness. And then there’s their romantic relationship, which they keep alive via coded letters that can’t say anything close to everything they want to say. These two boys are trying to figure out how they’ll possibly navigate a life together even once they can be together. But honestly, the romance in the story takes a backseat to the personal journeys each of the boys go on during the war (as it should—there are life and death circumstances here!). The bittersweet conclusion to the book might not be what every reader is hoping for, but it feels right—utterly and completely realistic. This book is perfect for anyone who looks at the world and wonders how they can help stamp out war and injustice—unfortunately, we haven’t done so yet, but every voice helps!
***Disclosure: This book was written by a friend, so I’m not even pretending to be 100% unbiased. I received an ebook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (though I bought my own paperback as well and read that copy for this review). No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
With a BA in screenwriting and MFA in Fiction, Kim taught high school for six years before becoming a mom to the best girl and boy in the world. While teaching, she was fortunate to teach creative writing and film classes in addition to trudging through the classics. She also co-founded the school’s first gay-straight alliance. A reader all her life, Kim’s first literary loves were a series of Care Bear Books and Grover’s Book of Resting Places. Eventually she graduated on to Sweet Valley Twins and The Babysitters Club. Kim lives in East Dundee, IL with her husband and two kids. MAN UP is her first novel. Her second novel, THE WAR ON ALL FRONTS, will be published in May 2022.
Kim’s Top Ten Addictions
Peanut butter and chocolate ice cream
When I was first asked to think about my addictions, this was the first thing I thought of, if that tells you anything. If the scoop contains an extra thick peanut butter ribbon, that is GOLD.
I first saw this amazing, underrated cinematic masterpiece in seventh grade. I couldn’t wait to record it off the Disney Channel. My friend made me a cassette tape of her copy of the soundtrack. And then I FINALLY got the chance to see the Broadway production (TWICE) and see the filmed Broadway production in the movie theater. You get the idea. It’s ridiculous. I’m a fansie and proud of it. Never fear, Brooklyn is here!
Good Will Hunting
This movie came out when I was in high school. It was the first time I fully realized that a person actually wrote the words in a movie. I saw it in theater three times, bought the soundtrack, the screenplay, and the movie poster. After moving with me to seven places, the poster now hangs in my office!
I discovered the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators exactly six years ago when I was about a third of the way through the first draft for MAN UP. I met my agent, my editor, and some amazing friends through this group. I love being a co-representative for one of the networks in Illinois.
Bill Konigsberg’s books
Bill Kongisberg is probably my favorite YA author. I love the humor in each of his books, the realistic characters, and how he tackles a common theme like identity but makes it fresh and brand new. It’s not very often you can say the sequel or companion to a book is better than the original. OPENLY STRAIGHT was amazing. HONESTLY BEN surpassed it. THE BRIDGE should be required reading for everybody. Looking forward to his next endeavor, DESTINATION UNKNOWN.
The Things They Carried
I (unwillingly) read this book for the first time as part of a creative writing assignment in high school. After reading it, I KNEW I was reading something special. Just hearing the title makes swoon, ask any of the teachers I used to work with. THE WAR ON ALL FRONTS wouldn’t have been written if I’d never read this book.
My husband and I were late to the party on this but we plowed through the whole series in about three months. Great writing, storytelling, unlikable and deeply flawed characters that you still root for.
Frank is a musician from England. My brother-in-law introduced me to his music over ten years ago. His 2018 album was called BE MORE KIND and the one before that was POSITIVE SONGS FOR NEGATIVE PEOPLE. The refrain from my favorite song, “Get Better,” says “we can get better because we’re not dead yet.” A song off his recent release is called “Haven’t Been Doing So Well.” He’s got a song for every occasion and mood.
Novel in a Year at Story Studio
I gush about my experience taking the Novel in a Year class at Story Studio in Chicago every chance I get. The first hundred (or so) pages of THE WAR ON ALL FRONTS was written during my time in the class. Our teacher, Jim Klise, brought together twelve amazing writers who are also wonderful people. Nine of us still meet once a month, almost four years after class ended.
I don’t think I’m addicted (maybe) but I love it first thing in the morning and occasionally in the afternoon, although now I’m trying to stick to tea after lunch.
Addictions Lists for the Book’s MCs
Anthony’s Top Five Addictions
Anthony’s dad was there on D-Day and Anthony grew up with stories about that day. He’s been wanting to enlist for a long time.
His Mom’s Cooking
Anthony’s mom and dad are first-generation Italians. His mom loves to feed her family with all the dishes she grew up eating and learned how to make. Ravioli, manicotti, veal, meatballs…Anthony loves it all.
Cool cars, fast cars, muscle cars, all cars. Anthony’s been tinkering on cars forever and started working at a nearby garage when he was still in high school.
Anthony’s mom would hate ketchup is on his list of addictions, but you’ll find out why it’s there.
Sam’s Top Five Addictions
As in the school subject. Sam’s heading off to college to study it and hopes to be a college professor one day so he can talk about history ALL DAY.
Anthony’s Mom’s Cooking
An advantage of being friends (and more) with Anthony is getting to have dinner at his house as often as possible.
If Sam is going to get through college and graduate school, he’s going to have to spend a lot of time in the library. Luckily, he likes it there and gets a lot of work done, providing Suzy’s dumb friend, Gloria, isn’t there to bother him.
It’s become Sam’s favorite condiment in the college cafeteria. You’ll see why.It’s always so fun to mix things up with character top ten lists. Thanks for sharing these!
Kim is offering one winner a signed, finished paperback of THE WAR ON ALL FRONTS (US Only) – Can be personalized!