In A Boy at War a number of conflicts are addressed including the father-son conflict, which was not fully developed, and the American- Japanese tension which was the highlight of the story.
Fourteen year old Adam Pelko goes fishing in a rowboat together with his two friends, one of Japanese decent and the other Hawaiian. He goes together with his Japanese friend, Davi, defying his father’s instructions to avoid interactions with the Japanese. On the fateful morning when the boys are out fishing the Japanese armed forces attack the Pearl Harbor. The boys witness the destruction as they narrowly escape after their own boat was shot. Adam witnesses the sinking of the Arizona, the ship where his father was stationed. He is later mistaken for a service man and ordered to work along other service men in the rescue efforts. Adam grows suspicious of his Japanese friend and almost directs his rage towards him. However, he is eventually able to overcome his feelings of hatred towards his friend, who he views as different from the attackers. This solves his personal problem with regards to the racial tension caused by the act of war.