One Last Bullet
by Joann Klusmeyer
PageTurner Press and Media

"I am an army deserter. I decided I’d rather die than do what I was told to do, but somehow I’ve lived for a long time. I’ve been heading for the Sea, but haven’t made very good time."

Fourteen-year-old Yvette Beaufort and her family live in France near its border with Germany, which is on the cusp of invading France as World War I heats up. Soon, German soldiers swarm across the Beaufort family estate and the surrounding countryside. Nineteen-year-old Ernest Feldmann is one of those soldiers, but after a traumatic experience, he has had enough of the war. He decides to leave, knowing he will be executed as a deserter if caught. Before disappearing into the French countryside, he discards all of his ammunition with the exception of one bullet. The bullet will be his self-inflicted escape if the German Army finds him. After several months of hiding, Ernest takes refuge in a small cave on the Beaufort estate, where young Yvette soon discovers him.

While the overall effectiveness of the narrative would be strengthened through some additional editing and proofreading, this historical novel is entertaining and pulls the reader through to the last page. The experiences of the Beaufort family and the young army deserter are told against the backdrop of real-life events of the war and its aftermath, stretching from France to the United States. The single bullet Ernest keeps when he flees the German Army is with him throughout the story and serves as a constant reminder of the fragility of his situation. This tale unfolds as if an elder, such as a grandparent, is sharing it with younger family members. A capsulized history lesson on World War I is included for younger readers who might not be familiar with the events surrounding the conflict. Klusmeyer's novel features likable characters and a satisfying ending.

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