Posts Tagged 'Iraq'

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson



Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  391

RAC:  Yes

Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road for five years as he worked for a trucking company, but he has decided to return to his home town so that she can go to a normal school.  Unfortunately, Andy suffers from severe PTSD following his tours in Iraq.  Due to this condition, Hayley is constantly watching out for Andy to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself or anyone else as he often uses recreational drugs to try and cope.  Hayley refers to betrayals in her past that lead her away from trusting anyone now with knowing their troubles.  When she meets Finn she realizes that there might be people out there who also have struggles at home and whom she might be able to confide in.  Can she ever be a normal teenager who worries about boys and schoolwork or will she forever be the parent in her house?  Can she open up to Finn and let him know the horrors she potentially faces each time she goes home?

Fans of Anderson’s titles Twisted and Speak will love this title.  It is very current and relatable while also revealing characters with personality and depth.  Many tough issues are discussed in this book such as domestic violence, drug use, suicide, and death, but they are all introduced in a way that does not feel forced.  The ending may or may not satisfy some readers, but in life things don’t always end perfectly and Anderson’s ending rings true in that respect.

Out of the Pocket by B. E. Stanfel

out of the pocket

Genre:  Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  209

RAC Book:  Yes

Mercer is a high school senior in 2003 struggling with his father’s deployment in Iraq.  The entire book is written in journal entries for his English teacher as well as emails to his dad in Iraq.  Mercer is focused on football and the dream of getting a full ride scholarship to the University of Iowa.  He begins writing emails to a teenager in Iraq that his dad works with occasionally.  Through these emails, Mercer begins to see that his life is very different from that of a teenager in Iraq and he should be grateful for the life he has.  At the same time, it is very difficult for Mercer to not have his dad with him for his senior year and he believes his family is starting to drift apart with his dad’s absence.  As time passes, Mercer begins to question his loyalty to this war.    Can he be the man his father wants him to be while he’s away?  Can he take care of his family the way he thinks he should?  When will his dad return to him?

This new title is written by a former teacher of Dowling Catholic High School and we are pleased to have received some copies early after it’s release.  The story captures the many worries and thoughts that go through a typical teenager’s head during his or her senior year but adds in the extra burden of having a father deployed.  The book provides a lot of detailed information concerning the war.  Students who enjoy reading about soldiers will enjoy the book as it is easy to identify with Mercer.  Recommended for those teenage boys who often have trouble finding titles that appeal to them.

Scat by Carl Hiaasen

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/ Mystery

# of Pages:  371 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

2010 Iowa Teen Award Winner

Scat begins with Nick and Marta in their biology class cringing that they will be called on by Mrs. Starch, who is the meanest teacher in the school.  Instead, she calls on Duane and assigns him a major paper when he admits he failed to do the assignment.  Duane (who’s nickname is Smoke because he has started a few fires in the past) storms out of class and everyone wonders if there will be any repercussions for Mrs. Starch singling him out in class.  The following day, the class takes a field trip to a nearby swampy area.  Around lunchtime they are evacuated due to a small wildfire, but Mrs. Starch sends the bus ahead so that she can return to find an inhaler that a student dropped.  She never returned to school and no one can find her.  Nick and Marta decide to investigate further in order to see if something terrible happened to her when she returned into the swamp.  Meanwhile, Nick’s father returns from Iraq injured and the entire family must come to terms with the fact that nothing will ever be the same again.

Carl Hiaasen has once again created a story in which the characters are interesting and colorful and an environmental issue is discussed.  In this book, Hiaasen addresses some of the endangered animals in the Florida area and the lengths the government and other protection agencies are going to in order to protect these creatures.  The pacing of the story seems natural and the story is revealed in a timely and appropriate manner.  Nick’s father serving in Iraq is something many students can relate to and while there is always hope for his prognosis, he does not return from war unscathed.  Any fan of Hiaasen’s previous books will enjoy this one.