anTomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden Tomorrow when the war began by John Marsden is an epic novel about the struggles 7 mismatched teens face when their home town has been invaded. A series of obstacles including love, lust, politics and friendship is just the start of what these young adults will be put up against in their journey to take back their family and their homes. Decisions will be made and sacrifices will be taken only to help build a stronger and more united front against their enemy.
As in real life, first impressions matter. Teenagers come in all different shapes and sizes, and with this group there is no difference. Ellie (the view point in which this novel is written in) is the typical all-round rural teen girl. She loves a bit of girly time with her girlfriends, but doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty helping her parents out with their farm. She’s an intelligent, outgoing, frivolous, young writer who emerges primarily as the ‘glue’ that holds this odd bunch of teens together. “Rack off guys!
I’ll never get this done. ”(p. 1) Right from the page l, Marsden has cleverly given us our stereotypical idea of a young teen girl, using slang words like “Rack off… ”. (1 more quote) Homer on the other hand is quite the opposite. Besides the fact that he’s male, his initial introduction could be compared to a young boy or monkey. He’s a rule breaker and a tree shaker. He’s not one to fold under the pressures of his peers and loves to live up to his Greek ancestors. Referred to as wild and outrageous, he’s more brawn than brains.
Winding up girls and smashing in windows with his mates takes his fancy, and disobedience may very well be the one word that sums up this tanned and rough Aussie rural. “ Homer was wild and outrageous. He didn’t care what he did or what anyone thought. Mrs Yannos tried to make Homer eat Brussels sprouts; they had a massive argument which ended with Homer chucking the sprouts at his mum. Homer always seemed to be in trouble. ”(p. 15-16). This extract is a great example of how Marsden has created the form work of a young and rebellious teen boy.
Real life experiences are enough to change a person both physically and mentally. These are pivotal moment(s) in a person’s life that make people choose different paths and decide on who they will become from that moment on, whether they know it or not. Ellie’s character is a great example of this with the changes to her personality as the events unfold during their ordeal. This law abiding citizen goes through many tests of logic, skill and quick thinking. Although some situations may terrorise her, they still play a major part in her characters development.
In the seventh chapter of this book, Ellie is faced with her first ordeal of stepping out into enemy territory and running to the safety of a tree. “A single movement was the key to finding my spirit. There was a tree about four steps away,… I suddenly made myself leave the darkness and go to it…. This is it. I’ve done it! It was a dance of courage. At that moment I stopped being an innocent rural teenager and started becoming someone else… ” (p. 81-82) Marsden has set this pivotal moment of Ellie’s journey up very well.
His descriptive language and well thought-out dialogue really helps put the reader into a position where they can think like Ellie has thought and feel the transformations Ellie has undergone. She’s gotten to the point where she was able to take the plunge into her new and unknown self, leaving her child-like being behind and run towards her new found grownup self. At the beginning of the novel, Ellie portrays Kevin to be self riches guy who loves to be right and quite selfish. “He was known for having a big ego and he liked to take the credit for everything… ” (p. 4)His beliefs and morals are elements of his personality that change as an effect of the war. In the final chapters of the novel Kevin emerges in a rage of love and friendship to put himself aside and help his injured girlfriend. “Corrie’s my mate and I’m not going to dump her and run. It has to be me… if you don’t mind I want to do it. ”(p. 281) Kevin has made a huge contrast to his old self and shown his loyalty and love for his partner, leaving himself a little more vulnerable with his feels so open unprotected. Again Marsden has incorporated the use of teen slang into Kevin’s speech, so to not lose any of its realism.
A good friendship is something that binds groups of people together, no matter the situation. This group’s friendship prospers and grows between every member of the team. Some even fall in love. That’s why when it comes to making tough decisions it can be even tougher if you’re close with one another. At many a time the group finds themselves in sticky situations of life and death. An example of this would be when Homer made the unpopular decision to ask the group to split up. Some members of the group sided with logic and backed up Homer. “So what are you suggesting? (p. 75) Kevin said, but like in any argument others were against the idea. Homer’s new found leadership made it possible for him to persuade the group against friendship and to side with logic. There was some element of compromise where certain team members stayed together because of other emotional reasons but Homer still got his way. As the novel progresses we see that this decision was a good idea to take on. Marsden has used the idea of relationships between members of the group to favour his main audience of teenagers, but is still a book any age can enjoy.
In summary, this “Tomorrow When The War Began” by John Marsden, delves into the emotional and quite raw parts of the teenage person. These teens are really stripped to their bare essentials and are forced to take on a new and more sophisticated perspective and personality. Some characters may be idealised for their courage to stand up and make a change. A responder can really relate and take on their emotional journey’s which is another reason why this book is so popular with its wide audience.