cover image Price of Duty

Price of Duty

Todd Strasser. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-4814-9709-1

Strasser (No Place) again tackles a difficult contemporary issue, focusing on Jake, a young, wounded war hero returning home from an unspecified war “over there” with heavily conflicted feelings. An idealistic high school student from a proud military family, Jake was swayed by a recruiter to enlist. After a year of combat, he is angry and disgusted by what he and his fellow soldiers have inflicted on others and by what they have endured or sacrificed. On the way to rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Jake is celebrated in his hometown by his family, the media, and the general public, but he feels much ambivalence about finishing his deployment, and grows deeply uneasy about being honored. Strasser moves back and forth between Jake’s experiences on base and in battle (described in detail) and his challenges at home. Jake’s internal debate over whether enlisting is a choice or if wars are too often fought by the poor, minorities, and “guys like me who are seduced by the action ads and unethical recruiters,” is thought provoking. An epilogue presents a satisfying resolution to his struggle between feeling as if he’s letting his family down and being true to himself. Ages 12–up. [em]Agent: Stephen Barbara, Inkwell Management. (July) [/em]