- Eddie’s War
Free-verse poetry, dated by month and year, traces the life of Eddie Carl in small-town Ellisville, Illinois as he grows from boy to adolescent throughout World War II. The dramas within the farming community are largely of a domestic nature: persistent grief over the death of a wife and mother; a fall from a treehouse with a resultant injury; a tomboy morphing into a love interest. A few secrets, though, [End Page 44] only surface as rumor and whisper: Grampa’s abuse of Grama Lucy; bigotry directed against the clan of gypsies that encamp near town; theft and arson that simply couldn’t be perpetrated by one of their own citizens. As the town struggles quietly with its own issues, the war siphons off most of the young men, including Eddie’s brother Thomas, who enlists to become a fighter pilot and ends up right back home, disabled and discharged. Saller’s poems build from finely delineated episodes of no immediately apparent weight into a cumulative portrait of a tightly interlocked community, where routine, patriotism, and neighborly support cannot always confine darker attitudes and deeds to the shadows. The contemplative tone of the entries and the misplaced accusations against an innocent man are reminiscent of Betsy Byars’ Keeper of the Doves (BCCB 1/03); readers who step into Eddie’s shoes will appreciate that coming of age often involves seeing your family and friends for exactly what they are.