Review Detail

4.7 2
Young Adult Fiction 1190
Grippingly realistic
Overall rating
Writing Style
Shane knows he's living atop a powder keg, both literally and figuratively. His step dad acts like he's running a marine corps division, even though he never really saw combat and is retired. His mother is intimidated by her husband, but does try to keep peace after he explodes. The real ticking bomb, however, lives in the basement. That's where Shane's older brother, Jeremy hides from the world and his demons.
Jeremy served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and now can't deal with peacetime back home. The invisible scars inside him fester, preventing him from sleeping, finishing out his tour at Quantico , or living with his wife Annie and their two infant daughters.
Shane feels adrift himself, not sure how to deal with Jeremy, angry at his stepfather and becoming detached from his teammates on the high school football team. He's ambivalent about his feelings for Annie, even though helping her and offering a supportive ear make him feel better.
That feeling of being adrift takes on a whole new meaning when Jeremy coerces him into skipping school and taking an impromptu canoe trip down the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. What transpires between the brothers and how the trip ends up make for a very well done and gripping read. It reminded me of Laurie Halse Anderson's The Impossible Knife of Memory in terms of getting readers to understand the scope and severity of war induced guilt, dreams and PTSD.
While there is violence and strong language in the story, both are integral parts of it and shouldn't deter libraries from adding a copy to their collection. This is an excellent and gut-hitting story.
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