Personal Effects

Featured
 
3.7 (2)
 
3.8 (2)
2692 0
Personal Effects
Author(s)
Age Range
14+
Release Date
September 11, 2012
ISBN
0763655279
Buy This Book
      

After his older brother dies in Iraq, Matt makes a discovery that rocks his beliefs about strength, bravery, and honor in this page-turning debut.

Ever since his brother, T.J., was killed in Iraq, Matt feels like he’s been sleepwalking through life — failing classes, getting into fights, and avoiding his dad’s lectures about following in his brother’s footsteps. T.J.’s gone, but Matt can’t shake the feeling that if only he could get his hands on his brother’s stuff from Iraq, he’d be able to make sense of his death. But as Matt searches for answers about T.J.’s death, he faces a shocking revelation about T.J.’s life that suggests he may not have known T.J. as well as he thought. What he learns challenges him to stand up to his father, honor his brother’s memory, and take charge of his own life. With compassion, humor, and a compelling narrative voice, E. M. Kokie explores grief, social mores, and self-discovery in a provocative first novel.

Editor reviews

2 reviews

Compelling, Gut-wrenching Debut.
(Updated: October 13, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
I knew going in, that this would be a tough book to read but I wasn't prepared for the strong emotions it would evoke. It's well written and moving, with complex characters that will tug at your heartstrings.

Matt is a guy who is dealing with his grief over the loss of his brother, T.J., and fighting a daily battle just to survive in his own home. (To say his Dad is "abusive" is putting it lightly.) Matt's pain and anger comes through loud and clear in his voice and my heart went out to him right from the start. He struggles with how to put one foot in front of the other, and when he discovers the truth about T.J., my heart broke right along with his. There's a twist in this story that, like Matt, I did not see coming, but he faces it head-on with courage and strength.

Shauna was another character I enjoyed. I found her selflessness and unconditional love refreshing. I liked T.J. too, even if I didn't agree with all of the choices he made, but it was obvious that he had the best intentions where Matt was concerned.

All of these characters made an impression on me in one way or another, and I'm glad I read it. I think an Epilogue would've been a nice addition, just to see where Matt (and a few others) were a year or so down the road.





Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0
The Horrible Cost of War
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Matt has enough to deal with. His father is very controlling and overbearing, more so since the death of Matt's mother. Matt must do well in school, work a job, control his anger, and most of all, join the military. Since Matt's brother, T.J., has recently died while serving in the military, it's not something Matt is really interested in. He's having a lot of anger management issues, especially when kids in school spout pacificistic rhetoric. His father barely mentions T.J., has taken down pictures, and won't let Matt have his brother's things. When several foot lockers of T.J.'s possessions are delivered to the house, Matt goes through them and finds, among other things, passionate letters from a woman named Celia, along with pictures of a young girl whom Matt believes to be his brother's child. With the support of his childhood friend (who is quickly becoming more of a girlfriend) Shauna, he plans a road trip to meet Celia and try to understand more about his brother's life, despite the fact that he is missing exams and work, and his father doesn't want to go. He ends up learning much more about his brother than he ever expected, and is able to come to terms a little bit more with the way that his family has been falling apart.

Good Points
This was a very powerful book, and excellently written. The scenes where Shauna is flirting with Matt but he is trying not to give in to her because he doesn't want to ruin their friendship are painful to read, but true to life. The dynamics between Matt and his father are also difficult but painful, and T.J.'s secrets are revealed and dealt with in a constructive way, even though this is not easy. I think this may be my nominee for the Young Adult Fiction section of the Cybils Awards this year.


Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 1 0

User reviews

2 reviews

Overall rating 
 
3.8
Plot 
 
3.5  (2)
Characters 
 
3.5  (2)
Writing Style 
 
4.5  (2)
Already have an account? or Create an account
Personal Effects
(Updated: February 02, 2013)
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
I would recommend this because of the subject material of the book. I think despite the ending a lot of people could really learn something from reading Personal Effects.

I won a copy from YABookCentral; Thank you :)
Good Points
I really liked the twist towards the end! Once the big surprise came out and was explained I found I love all of the characters even more for it! The book became deep and thought provoking and I still find my mind drifting to it still. I honestly never thought what it would have like for a someone in the army in that position before. This book cand definitally teach you a thing or two. :)
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0
Exceptional Book
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
I had been anticipating reading Personal Effects since I first discovered it, so I was very excited to finally read it. It was everything I expected and more! Personal Effects is such a heartfelt and emotional story, and a real tearjerker. I feel as though I should start doing some type of tissue rating system since I have a tendency to turn into a sobbing mess while reading emotional stories. I even had to stop reading several times when I couldn't see through my tears. This really is an amazingly well written story, and has so many parts that felt true to life.

The protagonist, 17 year old Matt, has been having a difficult time since his brother, T.J., died in Iraq. His father is a real hard ass, overbearing and controlling, and does not do emotions. Therefore, Matt has to internalize his anguish and heartbreak and not let his true feelings show through. Matt is always walking a tight line and trying his hardest not to set his father off. Since the story is told from Matt's POV, the reader can really sympathize with what he is going through.

Matt reacts to situations with such real emotions. I could feel his pain and frustration as he slowly and methodically goes through T.J.'s personal effects and attempts to make sense of what he finds. Matt realizes that he must open his mind to new possibilities. The discoveries also make Matt take a look at himself and the life he is actually living, and the life that he really wants for himself. He must make some difficult choices as he processes the loss of his brother.

Matt went through a tremendous change during the book. He learned how to stand up for himself and what he wanted. He was able to make decisions that helped him deal with and move past his grief. And he took charge of his own future. I felt that Matt came out of this a stronger and better person.

I really liked the romance aspect, even though it was mostly one sided. Matt has feelings for his best friend, Shauna, whom I really loved. She is funny and sweet, and is so supportive of Matt. Their scenes together are so hot! I loved when they were together, but I was glad that the romance didn't overshadow the bigger story.

Overall, I thought Personal Effects was an exceptional book, and I really enjoyed reading it. It is a story about loss, grief, discovery, and acceptance. This is a great contemporary, and I can't wait to read more from this author.

ARC provided by Candlewick Press via NetGalley.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Peek-a-Boo Little Reindeer
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
In this adorable peek-a-boo board book with felt flaps, a...
Perfect on Paper
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In Sophie Gonzales' Perfect on Paper, Leah on the Offbeat...
11 Paper Hearts
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Perfect for fans of To All the Boys I've Loved...
shine your icy crown
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
“Make them rue the day they underestimated you.” ...
The Castle School (for Troubled Girls)
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
From New York Times bestselling author Alyssa Sheinmel comes the...
Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Discover the incredible story of a young daughter of immigrants...
Follow Your Arrow
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
For fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, this is...
Paris Cat
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
A sassy cat from the back alleys of Paris believes...
The Last Hazelnut
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
When two woodland friends have a misunderstanding over who ate...
Down Comes the Night
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw the...
Rescue
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Six hundred and fifty-seven days ago, Meg Kenyon's father left...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
“We are most courageous at our weakest; when we believe...
The Night Walk
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Mama opened our bedroom door. "Wake up, you two," she...
My Very Merry Ugly Christmas Sweater
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Celebrate the perfect, ugly expression of holiday cheer in this...
You and Me
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
This sweet celebration of love is perfect for sharing with...
Baby's First Farm
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Babies and toddlers can lift the flaps to look inside...

Latest Member Reviews

The Valley and the Flood
 
4.3
"Rose Colter is adrift. She can't be where she was staying for the holidays but she can't go home yet..."
Perfect on Paper
 
5.0
"PERFECT ON PAPER is a delightful YA romantic comedy. Darcy has been operating Locker 89 at her school for years...."
11 Paper Hearts
 
4.3
"Reviewed for YA Books Central A super cute and sweet story. The story: A year ago, a..."
shine your icy crown
 
3.3
"shine your icy crown by amanda lovelace is a 129-page collection of contemporary poems. It’s the second book in the..."
The Castle School (for Troubled Girls)
 
4.3
"THE CASTLE SCHOOL (FOR TROUBLED GIRLS) is a story of healing and friendship. Moira has been cast adrift since the..."
Go the Distance
 
5.0
"Hercules proved he was a true hero and became a god like his parents, Zeus and Hera. Meg is thrilled..."
Follow Your Arrow
 
4.3
"FOLLOW YOUR ARROW is a heartfelt read about love, breaking up, and being true to yourself. CeCe has made a..."
Down Comes the Night
 
4.3
"DOWN COMES THE NIGHT is an intriguing, slow-burn YA fantasy. Wren is a healer in the military of her queendom,..."
A Dark and Hollow Star (A Dark and Hollow Star, #1)
 
4.7
"A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR is a slowly building YA fantasy that takes the reader on a wild ride through..."
Daughters of Jubilation
 
5.0
"It's South Carolina in 1962. Sixteen-year-old Evvie has two little sisters to take care of, a single mother, and finally..."
Dark Stars
 
4.0
"DARK STARS by Danielle Rollins is the third book in her series of the same name. It begins with Dorothy..."
Muted
 
5.0
"Denver loves music and dreams of life making it with her R&B group, Angelic Voices. When the group (Denver, Dali,..."
Reawakened
 
3.3
"My favorite thing about this book is the Egyptian elements. Reading Lily’s adventures in pyramids gave me strong Indiana Jones..."
Three Day Summer
 
4.7
"Michael doesn't know what he wants to do with his life. He should go to community college to avoid the..."
Crush (Crave, #2)
 
4.7
"CRUSH is an intense and nail-biting sequel to CRAVE. This second book picks up a few months after the first..."
The Shadow War
 
3.0
"Audiobook review: Following 5 teens trying to survive, THE SHADOW WAR imagines World War II with a..."
Meet Cute: Some people are destined to meet
 
4.0
"MEET CUTE is a fun, romantic anthology featuring stories about people first meeting. Ranging from cute to funny to dark..."
Glimpsed
 
3.7
"GLIMPSED gives us a twist on the typical fairytale with Charity, a fairy godmother from a line of fairy godmothers...."
Shine Until Tomorrow
 
5.0
"Wow, this book didn’t turn out to be anything like I expected. The story: Tamara is a young..."
Prepped
 
5.0
"PREPPED is a really captivating YA contemporary fiction. Becca is 17 years old and dreams of going away to college..."