THE JOURNAL OF PATRICK SEAMUS FLAHERTY by Ellen Emerson White

THE JOURNAL OF PATRICK SEAMUS FLAHERTY

United States Marine Corps
Age Range: 9 - 14

KIRKUS REVIEW

“I pretty much use the same words over and over, because I don’t know very many,” soldier Patrick Seamus Flaherty tells Doc Jarvis midway through this entry in the Dear America series. And therein lies the problem: readers are subjected to the poor writing of an unreflective high school boy as he records—in a blue book his father had left over from his own journal-keeping days in WWII—his observations of his tour of duty in Vietnam and of the events surrounding the battle of Khe Sanh in 1968. The problem with this entry is the problem with the series in general and with the journal format in particular: journal-writing distances readers from the drama and immediacy of events. An inarticulate witness such as Patrick inspires little interest in reading his words. Battles are fought, friends die, and Patrick is wounded; yet the words don’t carry any depth of feeling or insight. As the war grinds on, so do Patrick’s words. Even in a pain killer-induced haze, he writes and writes, until he stops because “It hurts a lot.” An epilogue continues Patrick’s story to the present, encouraging readers to think of Patrick as a real person as he marries, joins the Boston Fire Department, has children and grandchildren, and rarely talks about his time in Vietnam. The best part is the Historical Note, which provides an overview of the war in Vietnam and may make the volume of use to report-writers. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-439-14890-1
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2002




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