A story about the aftermath of World War 1, ‘The Heroes’ Welcome’ picks up seamlessly where the first book left off. I would not recommend reading this one without reading ‘My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You’ first. I didn’t like this one as much, so unless you really love Young’s expressive prose, you could just stick with the first book which features the true story of amazing medical work pioneered by the father of plastic surgery, Harold Gillies in Sidcup, UK.
In this second novel the war is over, but the after affects are apparent for those who carry on with physical and emotional scars. Long before PTSD had a name, those who had survived war, would continue to suffer. Riley is the most inspiring character as he copes with returning to a normal life after the miraculous facial reconstruction by Dr. Gillies. However, just as in the children’s book Wonder, people are affected by their looks and it is so hard for someone with a severe disability or disfigurement to get others to see past that. Young does a good job of exploring all angles of this experience and of this time in history.
This year marks 100 years since the start of the First World War. There have been many events to commemorate this. The one that touched me the most was the sea of poppies planted around the Tower of London. Not only was it an impressive artistic display in the city and an incredible object lesson, but also so symbolic. From a distance all of the poppies looked exactly the same, as if dressed in uniform (like soldiers). But the poppies were actually all hand crafted ceramic works of art that were all uniquely different from each other.