Today’s weekend read post is a theme, a two-for-one recommendation for books about the Afghanistan war. I didn’t mean to read two war-related books back-to-back but didn’t have much choice as they were two of the four books I took on vacation last month and once we were in Florida I was stuck with them.
Not that it was a bad thing.
I read If You’re Reading This by Trent Reedy on the way down, it’s a young adult book about a kid who lost his dad during the war. Mike was only seven when his dad died and now as his sixteenth birthday approaches, he’s wondering how his life would be different if his dad were still around. Would his mom be so busy working multiple jobs and be so angry all the time? Would they struggle so much to make ends meet? Would his mom let him play football, be a kid, and not be so hard on him?
Just as Mike starts to wonder if he can even make it through high school with life like it is, letters start arriving from his father. His dead father. And Mike gets to know a different side of his dad, a side that his father couldn’t show him when he was younger. Mike starts to take his dad’s advice and finally makes some major changes as the letters (and eventually, videos) draw to a close. Can Mike go back to “normal” after these letters? Can he forgive the people in his life that he sees so differently now?
This one is a great boy YA book. If You’re Reading This is full of football, war, relationships with parents, and a sweet girl crush. Things that resonate well with many male readers. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but as a teacher, I see the value and potential for a book like this. Just get it in the right kid’s hands.
The next book I read was adult fiction. My hopes in picking it up was that it would be a fluffy romance novel, perfect for reading on the beach. Um, that didn’t happen. Don’t Go by Lisa Scottoline is actually pretty heavy.
Dr. Mike Scanlon is serving as an army doctor in the Afghanistan war when his wife dies unexpectedly and leaves their newborn baby without a present parent. As Mike goes home to bury his wife, secrets are exposed that suggest his wife wasn’t exactly who Mike thought she was. In the chaos of his loss and the confusion of uncovered skeletons in the closet, Mike re-enlists in the army, leaving his daughter in the care of relatives.
But finally after a few years, it’s time to come home and face the music Mike has been avoiding. Coming home wounded instead of as a war hero wasn’t part of Mike’s plan, but his outside scars reflect just how broken he is inside. Once Mike is home, he becomes obsessed with finding out the answers to all the questions his wife left him. The ending will surprise you.
There was nothing carefree or relaxing about Don’t Go by Lisa Scottoline. By the time I realized I didn’t like it, I was too far in and had to find out how it ended even though there was a large part of me that didn’t care. It’s not that the novel is bad, it was just too much for me. I wanted a light beach read with a side of romance. What I got was hurt and damaged people who murder and are full of distrust. I didn’t enjoy this book or the characters; I couldn’t find one person to like and the plot was too much like a Lifetime movie for me.
Have you read either one of these before? How about Lisa Scottoline, she’s a published a lot of books, does anyone like her stuff?