BACK HOME by Julia Keller


Age Range: 11 - 14
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Rachel’s father, a member of the National Guard, has come back from Iraq with a serious head injury and without one arm and one leg. In a first-person narration that features an overabundance of often-intrusive similes and metaphors and never truly captures an authentic 13-year-old voice, Rachel relates her family’s despair over her father’s lack of improvement, his growing social isolation and her mother’s eroding ability to cope. Rachel’s narrative focuses far more on feelings than events, with her initial anger gradually evolving into a discouraging although believable resignation. The lack of action may leave readers with little motivation to turn the pages, though. In an afterword, the author cites a statistic that more than 80 percent of Marines and Navy soldiers wounded in the war have brain injuries without mentioning that the same source, U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, states the figure for all wounded soldiers is about 22 percent. Most likely to resonate with children of seriously wounded veterans (who may find the lack of hope discouraging but accurate), Rachel’s slow-paced tale lacks significant general appeal. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60684-005-4
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Egmont USA
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2009


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