Lisa Doucet Reviews Brian Bowman’s Dusty Dreams & Troubled Waters
Dusty Dreams & Troubled Waters
Brian Bowman, Illustrated by Richard Rudnicki with Susan Tooke
As a new recruit in the Canadian navy in 1942, Wally finds himself facing a world that is unimaginably different from his prairie home. In raging, storm-tossed seas, the HCMS SACKVILLE is one of the rugged Corvettes that patrol the Atlantic, seeking to protect merchant ships bringing much-needed supplies to Europe. It is their job to hunt the German U-boats that threaten these ships.
Life at sea is hard, their lives are in peril every minute of every day and death and destruction are an all-too-common reality. The rigours of his life on the farm, even during “the dirty thirties” when times were tough, never prepared him for the horrors of war.
But memories of Winnie help him remain brave and keep hope alive.
With fastidious and intricately detailed illustrations, this riveting graphic novel tells a powerful story. Packed with information about the role of the Corvettes, this book highlights this lesser-known part of the Second World War, vividly depicting the terrible realities of the Battle of the Atlantic.
The narrative skillfully alternates between Wally’s life on the prairies before the war and his harrowing experiences aboard HCMS SACKVILLE, helping build and sustain tension while creating a sense of the life Wally left behind.
The brisk-lined and meticulous black-and-white illustrations add rich depth and dimension to the tale, magnificently rendering the ocean vistas and prairie landscapes, the clutter and confines of the ship and the chaos and confusion of U-boat attacks, sinking ships and the carnage of war in the middle of the ocean.
These illustrations also capture tremendous depths of emotion in subtle and precise facial expressions. This is a masterfully crafted tale that is as instructive as it is engaging.