The Book of Jonas

Stephen Dau. Penguin/Blue Rider, $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-399-15845-2
In his debut novel, Dau chronicles the human cost of war with the alternating stories of Jonas, a teenager who loses his family in an American raid on an unnamed Muslim country; Christopher, a soldier involved in the attack and since MIA; and Rose, Christopher’s mother, a woman dedicated to discovering what happened to her son. After the brutal attack on his village, an aid agency sends Jonas to live with a football-loving family in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he attends high school. After Jonas assaults another student, he begins seeing a court-ordered counselor specializing in PTSD. In time, Jonas reveals his connection to Christopher, claiming that without the soldier he “probably would not have survived,” but evading other questions about the extent of their relationship. Short, sometimes contrived chapters moving between Jonas, Christopher, and Rose propel the novel quickly through time toward the truth about the attack. Intriguing characters reveal the effects of war on both victim and victimizer, and raise important questions about the emotional implications of modern warfare. Agent: Henry Dunow, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/16/2012
Release date: 03/15/2012
Genre: Fiction
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