Freedom First, Peace Later by Jeanette Hewitt

War Changes Lives

Jeanette Hewitt writes her poignant novel about the IRA (Irish Republican Army) by developing six characters that reside in Crossmaglen, a village in Northern Ireland.

Stu is an inexperienced British soldier, Barry is an undercover (double) agent, Bronwyn is Barry’s fraternal twin and she is a brave, outspoken bartender, Rosina is Bronwyn’s best friend, and is the complete opposite of Bronwyn. Danny is 100% IRA, and Connor was the secret boyfriend of Rosina, but ends up marrying Bronwyn.

These six characters and their families try to survive the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that fought a guerrilla war against British rule in Ireland. The war went on for over twenty years.

We see what war does to individuals and families. War changes people. Living with racism, bombs, and death everyday takes its toll.

There was hatred between the Catholics and Protestants, so much so that just walking on the wrong side of town was taking your life in your hands. The violent rituals were common, men were beaten to a pulp, kneecapped and crippled, and women were beaten and raped.

Stu, Barry, Bronwyn, Rosina, Danny, Connor, and their families live through hell and are subjected to all the violence at one time or another. Lives are lost. Lives are changed. Families are split up, some abandoned their own family members, and the drama is intense.

Everyone had to make life changing decisions to survive. Did everyone make it? You will have to read Freedom First, Peace Later, to find out who survived.

Jeanette Hewitt describes the setting vividly. Her characters are very different yet well developed. Freedom First, Peace Later has such a great flow that when I started the story I finished it and never noticed how long it took. I never put the book down.

As far as format, I would have preferred a table of contents.

I recommend Freedom First, Peace Later by Jeanette Hewitt to readers who enjoy learning history through a good novel.

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