Last month, I was thrilled to receive a copy of Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt. This was a book I had seen and heard a lot about, and it was published in paperback in July.
‘He had hoped the new day would bring with it some clarity or an awakening from the dream. Now, maybe an hour later, the strange world lingered.’
The novel is set in the spring of 1945, and with the war in its last throes a man awakes in a field, injured and confused. This is a man who does not remember who he is, where he is, and how he will get home – wherever that home may be. This man is named Owen and Devastation Road tells the story of his journey across war-torn Germany to get back to England. Along the way, he meets a teenage boy named Janek and a young woman named Irena who like Owen have their own troubles to contend with. Together, they form an alliance as they help each other to find the people and places they have lost. I was immediately gripped by this heartrending story, and desperate for Owen to find home.
‘He tried to explain, struggling to find the words to express how it was like an empty sea and only now were occasional islands starting to surface, the smallest fragments of land that he might cling to.’
I found this book to be beautifully written and this made for a moving and absorbing read. The plight of Owen, along with that of his new companions and the many refugees was vividly portrayed and Hewitt has captured some of the fear and horror of their situation. As Owen, Irena and Janek continue on their journey we begin to see more and more of Owen’s fragmented memories as he begins to recall faces, remembering the people who are closest to him, and the person he is most desperate to get home to. I really enjoyed this gradual reveal of information, as everything slowly begins to fall into place as the reader, and Owen, discovers who he really is. But it is not only Owen’s life that is pieced together, as there is plenty to be discovered about the people who surround him…
‘I am in a hospital. I am in a field. I am at the side of a bus stop lying on the pavement and quite still, yet within this body I am sliding under. I am sliding away.’
I loved Devastation Road; a book that had me gripped and which I devoured in just over a day. Hewitt has written a beautifully moving novel about war, memories, and coming home.
Devastation Road was published in paperback on 14th July 2016 by Scribner. Many thanks to Jason Hewitt and Scribner for providing a copy for review.