On Blood Road (A Vietnam War Novel)
Realizing he could be an important bargaining chip, the NVA decides to move Taylor to the north. The only way there is the Ho Chi Ming Trail, a series of dangerous paths that snake from South Vietnam through Laos and Cambodia before finally reaching North Vietnam. But thousands have died on the trail, and Taylor doesn't know what's waiting for him at the end.
What follows is a harrowing journey during one of the most controversial wars in US history, where one boy is forced to confront the true cost of war, and what it really means to survive.
I appreciate it when these details are offset by discussion of deeper philosophical ones about how to treat others. WHile young readers might want lots of descriptions of fighting, it's also good for them to understand how devastating war can be for those who are involved in it. I especially appreciated the scene where Taylor saves Phuong because, in part, it's the right thing to do. It is pointed out, however, that part of his reasoning for saving her is that his other captors are meaner! This had a nice balance, and the structure of it will make it appeal to readers of outdoor survival adventures as well.
Since many middle grade readers today have grandparents who were involved in some aspect of the Vietnam conflict, this is a fantastic book to give those interested in this time period, and is paired well with the nonfiction accounts by Partridge (Boots on the Ground) or Freedman (Vietnam: A History of the War).