Dreaming the Enemy

David Metzenthen
AUD $19.99
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Two young Vietnam War veterans who fought on opposing sides return home, struggling to recover from their experience. A moving story of trauma, resilience and the challenging road to recovery.

WINNER: 2016 QLD Premier's Literary Awards, Young Adult

I am still moving despite the fact that this dreamed-up bastard Khan walks with me - no, he doesn't walk with me, he rises up to fire, has my life in his hands, my head in his sights, and that is the image of all images that I have somehow to lose.

Johnny Shoebridge has just returned from fighting in the jungles of Vietnam. He no longer carries a weapon - only photos of the dead and a dread of the living.

Pursued by a Viet Cong ghost-fighter called Khan, Johnny makes one last stand - knowing that if he cannot lay this spectre to rest, he will remain a prisoner of war for ever.

Drawing on courage, loyalty and love, Johnny tries to find a way back from the nightmare of war to a sense of hope for the future.

An elegant and deeply moving novel, set in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, by one of Australia's finest writers.

Author bio:

David Metzenthen is a Melbourne writer who is married, has two children, and numerous pets. Both his father and grandfather served in the Australian Defence Forces, fostering David's great interest in the role Australians have played in armed conflict. The author's interests include fly-fishing, surfing small waves, and the greater environment.

Category: Young adult fiction
ISBN: 9781760112257
Awards: Winner Queensland Literary Award - Young Adult Category 2016 AU
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: A & U Children
Pub Date: April 2016
Page Extent: 304
Format: Paperback - B format
Age: 14 - 18
Subject: Young adult fiction

Teachers Notes

Teachers Reviews

I was given a copy by Allen & Unwin for an honest review and really wanted to like this story because there are not many books written for young adults about the Vietnam War. However, although the story was written for an audience of 14 – 18 year olds (probably boys), I think the way the plot was constructed was very confusing for the average reader of this age. The fact that the main character was called Johnny and Shoey, (I hope they were the same person), sometimes in the same sentence, was downright bewildering. I also had trouble keeping up with the time frames of each chapter, so I imagine young readers would be even more confused.

This aside, the story was informative with regard to a war veteran who has PTSD and may appeal to readers of war stories. It would be an interesting related text for modern history and the HSC Discovery English unit. I did not warm to the character of Johnny/Shoey as there wasn’t any background story to cause empathy for him as a protagonist. This left the plot feeling quite flat.
Sadly I would only give this book 2 out of 5 stars because I couldn’t connect with the characters at all.
Gloria McCowan, Xavier Catholic College, NSW

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