Henry Gregor Felsen May Lamberton Becker - Essay

May Lamberton Becker

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

We've come a long way from gentlemanly wars and the polite romances by which they were represented to young folk in fiction. There are no lace ruffles in Russia today, and if a story of the resistance of young folk of the Soviets to the earlier stages of German invasion of the Ukraine is to be told today to American young folk who read the papers, it will have to give them as much of the truth as a twelve-year-old can take in, and that will involve murder, sudden death and battle of a desperately glorious ferocity….

Under these conditions Mr. Felsen's ["Struggle Is Our Brother"] keeps on the young side of the line—now as irregular as a rail fence—between juvenile and adult fiction. Taking for granted that twelve-year-olds can stand a great deal, it gives them straight action, leaving to their elders psychological reactions and psychic abnormalities with which the adult war novel can, and does, deal. This action, involving boys and girls with older patriots, turns on the fate of a huge dam, pride and hope of the region, and on the dread necessity of destroying it rather than leaving it to the invader…. [Heroism] is taken for granted among [all the characters], and in them all is a spirit that will strike fire in any young heart.

May Lamberton Becker, "Books for Young People: 'Struggle Is Our Brother'," in New York Herald Tribune Book Review (© I.H.T. Corporation; reprinted by permission), Vol. 19, No. 26, February 21, 1943, p. 7.