A moving study of war’s long-reaching effects on families.
Mike Wilson’s father “had been dead seven years the day his first letter arrived.” How can this be? Who is sending them? His father died in Afghanistan on Aug. 28, 2005, and 15-year-old Mike, his mother and his younger sister have moved on with their lives, though his mother avoids the painful subject of his father. It’s difficult, though, to navigate high school without a father’s guidance, and this letter and those that follow are intended to help. Many contain a mission for Mike—get involved with a sport, ask a girl out, go to church, get your driver’s license, go easy on your sister, and be nice to your mother. The letters offer Mike an approach to succeeding in high school and a means of saying goodbye to his father, and they offer readers, along with Mike, a compelling mystery: How can a dead man send letters? Mike is a believable character, his first-person narration capably spun. A whole story constructed around letters intended to teach life lessons can’t help but feel didactic, though earnest and well meaning.
Readers will anticipate each letter right along with Mike, and they may receive some good guidance about life along with him. (Fiction. 10-16)