Operation Oleander

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Operation Oleander
Publisher
Age Range
11+
Release Date
March 05, 2013
ISBN
978-0547244372
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Ninth-grader Jess Westmark had the best of intentions when she started Operation Oleander to raise money for a girls’ orphanage in Kabul. She named her charity for the oleander that grows both in her Florida hometown and in Afghanistan, where her father is deployed. But on one of her father's trips to deliver supplies to the orphans, a car bomb explodes nearby and her father is gravely injured. Worse, her best friend’s mother and some of the children are killed, and people are blaming Operation Oleander for turning the orphanage into a military target for the Taliban. Is this all Jess’s fault?

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When doing the right thing is hard
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4.0
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4.0
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Jess is committed to collecting school supplies for a girls' orphanage and school in Kabul, even though some people on the military base where she lives don't think it is appropriate. Jess was an orphan as well, and is glad that her father and her best friend Merriweather's mother are delivering the supplies... until a bomb at the orphanage kills Merriweather's mother and gravely injures her father. Jess still feels that it is important to help out the orphanage, especially since they have to rebuild, but with her own mother off in Germany helping her father recuperate, and the commander at the base (and father of another good friend) telling her that she needs to stop, she doesn't know what to do. Also bothering her is the fact that Merriweather holds her responsible, and will be moving because of her mother's death. How can Jess convince people that her charitable acts need to continue even in the face of evil and violence?

Good Points
Interesting depiction of a military family dealing with issues of deployment. Some books deal too much with the entire family; I liked how this centered on Jess and the experience of a girl dealing with missing a parent. The cover is fabulous. (Oleander grows in both Florida and Kabul, which is why Jess picks it for her project name.)This had just the right balance of sadness and hope to make it intriguing.
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Just Trying to Help
(Updated: June 09, 2013)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
This book focuses on young Jess who lives on a military base with her mother and baby sister. With her best friend, Jess has put together Operation Oleander; a program the gives donated school supplies to orphans in Afghanistan. Her father has been deployed to Afghanistan and delivers Operation Oleander's school supplies to the children directly. Here is when good intentions lead to horrible consequences. A group of men bomb the orphanage because of the American military presence. Thus leaving Jess confused scared and suddenly blamed for the killings of troops and orphans. Operation Oleander shows the untended consequence and how ugly some people can be towards those that are just trying to help. I would recommend this to those interested in the subject no matter the age.
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