cover image Personal Effects

Personal Effects

E.M. Kokie. Candlewick, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5527-3

In an outstanding debut, Kokie tackles the tumultuous aftermath of a soldier's death, as seen through the eyes of a sibling left behind. Ever since 17-year-old Matt Foster's older brother, T.J., died in Iraq, Matt has been enraged%E2%80%94especially with anyone who criticizes the war or his brother's role in it%E2%80%94and he doesn't hesitate to express himself with his fists. Meanwhile, his authoritative and physically intimidating ex-military father seems determined to erase every sign of his deceased son's presence. When Matt gets his hands on some of T.J.'s possessions, he discovers that T.J. had a life he never knew about, complete with girlfriend and potential child. Risking his father's wrath, Matt borrows a car and takes an impromptu road trip, hoping to reconnect with his brother's memory. Writing with grace and subtlety, Kokie depicts Matt's emotions as he uncovers the details of T.J's hidden life. Through raw moments and strikingly mature characterizations, Kokie explores loss, personal relationships, and the burden of preconceptions. Ages 14%E2%80%93up. Agent: Chris Richman, Upstart Crow Literary. (Sept.)