Conrad’s War by Andrew Davies (1978)
This was the first non-picture book I ever remember checking out of my grade school library. I loved this book and checked it out many times over the course of three or so years.
Conrad is obsessed with guns, violence, and war. He attempts to build a tank, which unsurprisingly, fails. He finds himself fading in and out of World War II. At first, he is excited because it is what he thinks he wants, but soon realizes he was wrong. As the war drags on, it becomes less glamorous and much more real. His early disrespect for his father, who didn’t help him build his tank, changes over the course of the war.
I haven’t read this book since probably sixth grade. I sometimes want to re-read it to see if it still holds up all these years later (Watership Down by Richard Adams holds up amazingly well but Tolkien’s The Hobbit doesn’t hold up as well for me.). I think I remember it so fondly, in part, to the idea that it was the first book I picked out to read all on my own.