High school sophomore Paige’s mother, a captain in the military, has just come home from Afghanistan, seemingly a welcome event.
Sadly, her mother, injured in an attack two years before, comes home addicted to pain medications and tranquilizers. She’s devolved into a hardened and angry woman who buries her unhappiness in a drug-induced stupor every night. Paige, dealing with friends’ relationships and her own only slightly depicted romance with David, a fellow ROTC member, is uncertain how to cope with both her mother’s unexplained but venomous hostility toward her and the addiction. The Support and Defend series seems to be intended as potential bibliotherapy for the teen offspring of damaged veterans. However, the novel is brief, perhaps to enhance its appeal for reluctant readers, which leaves little room for character or plot development. Only Paige is marginally rounded; others do little more than slide in and out of the message-focused narrative. Dialogue, too, is trite. Paige’s mom, finally recognizing her need for treatment, comments: “I fought for freedom for others….I need to fight now for my own.” After being sent to rehab, she mentions that there are many soldiers like her and adds, “We’ve got each other and our treatment team.”
Although little recent fiction deals with children of damaged veterans, there are numerous outstanding works about addicted parents that would resonate more with readers than this weak title. (Fiction. 11-16)