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Julia Keller, Author . Egmont USA $15.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-60684-005-4

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Keller's debut suffers from too much telling, not enough showing. Developed from the author's experience as a reporter following families whose loved ones were afflicted with traumatic brain injuries, but focusing on a returning war veteran, the book feels more like an expository essay on the disorder's impact on soldiers and their families than a novel. This unflinching account of a father's return from Iraq (without two limbs and with severely reduced brain function) is narrated by his 13-year-old daughter, Rachel. However, there's little of the emotion one might expect from a girl in her situation: she delivers the facts about his inability to function, her mother's steady loss of patience and the decline in relatives' support with detachment (“People—teachers, other kids, our friends—treated us like we were made of paper or something, and if they said the wrong thing... it would be like poking a finger through a thin sheet of paper”). While this emphasizes the emotional difficulties Rachel has in coping, the repetitive way in which the story's details are laid out can be tedious, despite the harrowing subject matter. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/31/2009
Release date: 09/01/2009
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