cover image Lost Boys

Lost Boys

Darcey Rosenblatt. Holt, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-62779-758-0

This hard-hitting first novel opens in Iran in 1982 during the Ayatollah Khomeini’s oppressive rule and that nation’s war with Iraq. Rosenblatt thrusts her sensitive, music-loving narrator, Reza, into immediate danger as the 12-year-old’s widowed mother pushes him to join the fight, viewing it as an honor if he were to die a martyr. When his best friend Ebi enlists, Reza follows, and after slipshod training, the gruesome reality of their role emerges as officers tie dozens of the teenage boys together and send them into a minefield: “We were legs and arms they didn’t mind losing. We were here to die.” Rosenblatt counterbalances cruelty with strong relationships, especially among the boys in the Iraqi POW camp Reza ends up, as well as with a charismatic teacher and aid worker who nurtures his love of music. The larger political context becomes personal when a devastating public rejection of Reza and his fellow survivors by Iran leaves the boys without a country. Though the conclusion may stretch belief, the resilience of Rosenblatt’s protagonist strikes a strong chord. Ages 9–12. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. (Aug.)