Tomorrow, When the War Began

Marsden, J.  (1995) Tomorrow, When the War Began. San Diego, CA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


When Ellie Linton and her friends head out to the bush for a week, their plan is to have some fun and explore – and to get away from school and parents.  Their goal is not to escape an invading army.


But after their outing, Ellie and company arrive back at their homes to find them abandoned, their parents and siblings missing, and even their pets and livestock dead or dying.  With a great deal of bravery and maturity in the face of a crisis – not to mention no small amount of recklessness – the gang returns to their hidden campsite and uses it as a base from which to scout out the town, where most everyone is being detained, and the movements of their new enemy.


This books raises many more questions than it answers, and while some of them are likely addressed in later books in the series, many of them are not meant to be answered ever.  A great deal of this book’s strength is in it’s ambiguity; Marsden uses lack of exactness in the same way that more traditional science fiction author’s use unfamiliar and nonexistent settings and peoples, as a way to force readers to step outside their assumptions and look at the world form a different perspective.


While the story is about an armed invasion, the violence depicted is personal and more than once perpetrated not by troops but by the teens themselves in defense of their homeland.  Overall, the story deals with war and it’s consequences maturely and respectfully without being preachy or overwhelming.  Best for ages 12 to 18.

Awards and Reviews: ALA Best Books for Young Adults (1996)


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