Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 374
Iowa High School Award Winner 2015-16
Daniel Wright enlisted in the Idaho National Guard as soon as he was eligible, which means he is still a senior in high school. He lives with his very needy mother, plays football, and has a girlfriend. The national guard is only supposed to be one weekend a month until he graduates from high school, but then a law is passed that many people do not agree with including the governor of Idaho. When he refuses to comply with the law he calls in the national guard to combat any possible rioters and Daniel Wright is one of those soldiers called in to defend the capital. Unfortunately, his gun accidentally fires and it begins a terrible riot that results in some civilian casualties. In the aftermath, the President of the U.S. demands the governor of Idaho reveal the names and whereabouts of all involved soldiers so they can face possible criminal charges. The governor refuses and Idaho faces the very real possibility that they could go to war with the United States of America. Can Daniel fight other U.S. soldiers? Will Daniel go to jail if he is caught by the U.S. military? Will his liberal girlfriend understand the circumstances that led him to this point?
This exciting adventure story shows how plausible it really is that a state could go to war with the U.S. All of the characters are written in a way that you can understand their motivations, feelings, and actions. There’s a lot of soldier terminology used to describe Daniel and his squad’s orders, but it is explained well for readers who do not normally read about soldiers. The story is very exciting as Daniel is thwarted at every move and the ending will definitely leave readers wanting more. Strongly recommended for high school boys.
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.
Genre: Historical Fiction
# of Pages: 163 p.
2010 Iowa Teen Award Winner
RAC Book: No
Twelve-year-old Jamie is excited when she hears her older brother, T.J., has enlisted in the Army. Their father is a Colonel and they have lived all of their lives on army bases. She would love to go fight for her country too if they would let her. She is surprised when their father does not want T.J. to go to Vietnam. He does everything he can to convince her brother to back out of his enlistment agreement, but T.J. persists and is sent to Vietnam almost immediately after basic training. He sends generic letters home to his parents, but he sends rolls of film to Jamie. She learns how to develop film by herself so that she is the first one to see the prints and she is surprised by the content of the film. First of all, the war does not look at all as glamorous as she thought it would. Secondly, there are many pictures of the moon, which make her wonder what her brother is trying to show her with the pictures. Jamie soon decides she is not so thrilled about her big brother fighting in the war anymore.
This Vietnam tale is a great way to introduce the Vietnam War to students this age. Jamie’s perspective of the young child who sees war as glamour and heroes quickly changes when she starts seeing what is going on over there. Her father is a well-written character as he is the one who describes some of the errors in the strategy used in the war. The emotions and feelings of soldiers and families help the reader to truly get into the story and feel what it would be like to be in their position. A very well-written book on a very difficult topic.
Genre: Historical fiction
Age Level: 14 and up
# of Pages: 150
Award Winner: Iowa Teen Award 2009-2010
This fiction story is based on the true events of the famous Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling’s son, John. Rudyard had always wanted to serve his country in the armed forces and was disqualified due to physical limitations. From a young age, he groomed John to want to be a soldier as well, but John had weak eyes. Rudyard used all of his influence to get John into the army as an officer, which John appreciated. When John goes to his first battle, however, he realizes that it is a little different than he imagined and he wishes he could just go home and play the rich son again.
The format of the story is interesting because it flashes from John in his first battle back to all the memories of him growing up. As a child John loved to play with the expensive toys his father gave him, but he often played recklessly and Rudyard encouraged it as typical boy behavior. In the flashbacks it becomes apparent how important it was to Rudyard for his son to fight for his country like he couldn’t. He fails to see the possible dangers and never truly believes anything could possibly happen to his son. Although this story is very interesting, it will be difficult to get young adults to read it. Many young adults do not like to read historical fiction type topics, but students who like reading about war will enjoy this title.