cover image If You're Reading This

If You're Reading This

Trent Reedy. Scholastic/Levine, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-545-43342-6

Former Iowa National Guardsman Reedy (Divided We Fall) returns to Riverside, Iowa (last seen in his Stealing Air) to tell the coming-of-age story of 15-year-old Mike Wilson, who's still dealing with his father's death in Afghanistan, seven years earlier. Raised by his overprotective mother, Mike yearns to play football, but is pushed to focus on school and his part-time job. When letters written by his father before his death start showing up in the mail from an unknown sender, they give Mike a connection he thought lost forever. With each letter giving him a mission%E2%80%94go to a party, ask a girl out, forgive someone%E2%80%94he finds the courage and motivation to live fully. But in the process, he must confront bullies, get around his mother's disapproval, and find out the truth behind his father's death. Powerful and emotionally raw, with sympathetic characters and a thought-provoking premise, this tale reflects Reedy's strengths: evoking the small-town American spirit, capturing the feel of the military, and getting into the heart of his teenage protagonist. Ages 12%E2%80%93up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (Aug.)