Mazer (Heroes Don’t Run) and Lerangis (wtf) use strong characters and storytelling to explore the slow and painful recovery of an injured teenage soldier. High school senior Ben has great grades and a potentially bright future in the arts, so his friends, family, and girlfriend are all surprised when he enlists in the military. And they are horrified when he is quickly deployed to Iraq, where he receives a head injury and suffers brain damage in the line of duty. The story is divided into Before, During, and After sections; Mazer and Larangis shift their focus among the prominent people in Ben’s life, including his autistic brother, Chris; his best friend, Niko; and his fiancé, Ariela. The authors carefully demonstrate the effect the tragedy has on everyone involved, particularly Ariela’s attempts to maintain a social life in college, while vividly bringing Ben’s struggles to life. (One chapter simply shows a scribble on a sheet of paper, Ben’s attempt to write.) Readers will likely sense where the story is headed, but the journey is powerful and worthwhile. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/16/2012 Release date: 02/07/2012 Genre: Children's
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