On the Wings of Heroes

Author: Richard Peck

Davy Bowman is at a tender, precious time in his life–a time in his boyhood where evenings are playing with all the kids in the neighborhood, where his heroes loom large in his vision. In particular, two heroes dominate his life and make him swell with pride:  his dad–a WWI vet who hates war and loves to play with the kids–and his big brother Bill–just graduated from high school and joining the Air Force. But just when life seems perfect, the rumblings of WWII stir even in their small town as Bill gets ready to ship out to fight, air raid drills become a normal part of life, and scrap drives become the new “thing to do.” Still, in spite of the fear, tension, and hardship, the Bowman family finds ways to pull together . . . and have fun together.

I’ve said it before, but I’m a big Richard Peck fan; it seems like everything he writes is just wonderful. On the Wings of Heroes is no exception. It’s more poignant, pensive, and tender than most of his books–many of which are rib-cracking laugh inducing the whole way through–yet the mood fits perfectly. This is the story of a boy and his dad, really, at the point where the boy is starting to grow up but is still young enough to both admire his dad and to love being close to him. They have a really sweet relationship. But it’s not like the story’s all serious or anything either; while taking the gravity of the war into account, Peck shows that it’s still possible to laugh and enjoy the small things in life. Rather, that it’s vital to do so to get through the tough times. I definitely recommend reading On the Wings of Heroes as a thoughtful, sweet WWII novel.

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