A soldier’s refusal to go out on a raid sets in motion the collapse—and metamorphosis—of his entire family.
Not that his family is built upon a sturdy foundation that could weather the storms of news reporters camped outside their home for months on end or the Internet trolls slinging mud on their name. No. The Stellkellner family is built on silences, unspoken rules, broken emotions. So when Joseph returns from deployment in Baghdad after only three and a half months and the media quickly seizes on the story, his younger brother and sister are left in the dark. In fact, no one bothers to ask Joseph why he balked. Parents Brad and Janet forbid Joseph from speaking to Aubrey and Ruth, and though he’d like to disobey that injunction, events soon have him on the run and just as quickly incarcerated in a federal prison awaiting court-martial. So 13-year-old Aubrey and 15-year old Ruth must sort out what happened for themselves, cobbling together clues dropped by teachers, bullies, and reporters. Hyde (Worthy, 2015, etc.), the bestselling author of Pay It Forward, deftly and compassionately crafts Ruth’s and Aubrey’s bewildered interior monologues, tracing alternately Ruth’s sympathetic and Aubrey’s traumatized reactions. Aubrey’s outbursts at school eventually land him in the office of Luanne, a brilliant therapist whose fish enchant him. Ruth loses her boyfriend, Brad loses his job, and the tenuous fibers holding the Stellkellners together fray even further. That is, until Aubrey and Ruth track down the delightful Hamish, a man Joseph considered a father figure. Gifted with a disarming ability to connect quickly and deeply with anyone—even complete strangers intending to fling themselves off the cliff outside his home—Ham begins to heal not only Ruth, but the entire family.
A poignant and warmly humorous tale of emotional survival.