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Operation Oleander Hardcover – March 5, 2013

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 560L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books (March 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547244371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547244372
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #862,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-9-Ninth-grader Jess and her family live on a military base in the U.S. She and her friends Meriwether and Sam collect donations for an orphanage in Kabul, where her father and Meriwether's mother are stationed. When the orphanage is bombed and reports reach the U.S. almost immediately that American military personnel were present, the all-but-unbearable waiting for official notification of casualties and injuries begins. Rumors are rampant, and the entire base holds its collective breath while the television shows seemingly never-ending reruns of the explosion. Patterson has an amazing ability to convey the tension and fear that families and friends of deployed soldiers bear every day and the heart-stopping terror when news programs show violence against troops that may result in one of their loved ones being wounded or dead. The story doesn't have a happy ending-there is grief, anger, blame, and guilt, emotions that are universal in the wake of tragedies. It is unfortunate that the characters are one-dimensional and show little growth.-Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SCα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

When Jess’ father sends home pictures of a girls’ orphanage in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jess convinces two friends, Sam and Meriwether, to assist in collecting school supplies for the orphans. Because the oleanders at Fort Spencer and at the orphanage are blooming, Jess names their project Operation Oleander. As Jess’ father and Meriwether’s mother deliver the boxes to the orphanage, a car bomb explodes, injuring Jess’ father and killing Meriwether’s mother, another soldier, and civilians. This tragic occurrence sets off a dramatic chain of events at Fort Spencer, and Jess must deal with unimagined consequences—the loss of Meriwether’s friendship, her father’s injuries, a potential hearing to assess misdeeds on the part of the soldiers, and, probably most important to her, her guilt for the damage her project has caused and the fate of the girls in the orphanage. Patterson poignantly depicts war’s effect on those at home as Jess and her friends absorb and react to the events. This solid novel joins the growing number of books illustrating the war’s effect on Afghan people. Grades 6-9. --J. B. Petty

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Customer Reviews

This was overall an excellent book that I'd recommend to any young teen.
Ruby Red Slippers
It something that I can relate to very easily because I have always wanted to do something like what Jess did.
Operation Oleander is a great book about a military kid whose father is deployed to Afghanistan.
S. Power

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bundtlust TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Packed with symbolism, Operation Oleander is a riveting read and one that doesn't sugarcoat the realities of deployment and its impact on soldiers, their families, and communities.

I'd ordered Operation Oleander just as the recent news story broke a suicide bomber attacking a convoy of US soldiers, diplomats, and DoS civilians who were delivering books to a school in Afghanistan. In Operation Oleander, Jess Westmark and her friend Meriwether Scott, both of whom have parents deployed to Afghanistan, start a charity to collect money and school supplies for a Kabul orphanage. Their parents and others from their unit are directly involved in delivering donated supplies to the orphanage. But things go horribly wrong when the soldiers' convoy is bombed, killing and wounding several Fort Spencer soldiers and Afghan civilians. Meriwether's mom is killed and Jess's father is seriously wounded in the attack. Suddenly Jess and her Operation Oleander are under fire; did her charity needlessly jeopardize the lives of American soldiers?

I found that Jess's narrative really rang true for me; after her mother flies to Germany, she tries to mend her relationship with Meriwether and to soul search about the future of Operation Oleander; she's received a direct order to stand down by the post's commander. She tries to emulate her father in times of crisis: "Straighten up. Stay calm. Keep order." Duty, honor, country. Jess has to learn to make her own way and do what she feels is right.

The novel introduces many elements of military life: deployment, the PX, base housing, military customs and courtesies, etc. It's great to see these things mentioned in a YA book when there are more than 1 million military kids living this reality every day.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BailsChris on March 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Operation Oleander by Valerie O. Patterson is the tale of a young woman who just wants to do something right by the world. Jess knows that sending care packages to an orphanage in Afghanistan is the right thing to do and she loves the fact that she is helping people outside of her own country. Because she lives on a military base, she faces mixed feelings about her charity project but it only amplifies when the news of a bombing reaches the base. As news filters in through the system, she finds out that the bombing happened at the orphanage while her father's unit was dropping off supplies. The disastrous effects of the bombing are blamed on Jess's efforts and suddenly everyone wants to cover it up. All Jess wants is to help the children just like her father and her best friend's mother would've wanted.

I really adore the plot of the story. It something that I can relate to very easily because I have always wanted to do something like what Jess did. She managed to give assistance to the "enemy" during a war that was fraught with conflict and she bonded with people who she was supposed to hate. I've always wanted to go into a war zone and do humanitarian work so I definitely was excited to read this story. After reading it, I knew that this was my sort of book.

Jess faces a lot of emotional trauma through the story as she struggles between what she thinks is right and everyone else tells her is right. From the beginning, it seems like no one is standing behind her. She feels like her friends don't believe in her cause and that they are just waiting for her to give up. But she refuses to. When the bombing happens and it is revealed that her father is injured and her best friend's mom is killed, everyone urges her to give up this misguided idea of helping them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sylviastel VINE VOICE on May 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The novel is appropriate about three children of Army soldiers who are in Afghanistan. Jess Westmark, the protagonist, is the voice of the novel who explains how she and her friends, Mereweather, whose mother Mrs. Scott is serving in Afghanistan. Then there is Sam whose father is also over. Mereweather's mother, Jess's father, and Sam's father. They have a project called Operation Oleander where they raise money to buy school supplies for a girls' school in Kabul. When a tragedy occurs in a bombing, Jess' father survives with severe injuries. Jess's best friend's mother, Mrs. Scott, is among the casualties. Mereweather is angry at Jess and the Operation Oleander.

The children here are well aware of the situation overseas in Kabul, Afghanistan. The bombing changes everything especially Operation Oleander. Should they continue at home in Florida or not to help other female orphans in Kabul to go to school. Jess Westmark herself was adopted by her military parents. Her mother leaves her and her younger sister in Mrs. Johnson's hands while she travels to Germany to visit their injured father. The bombing of the orphanage occurred on July 5 the day after after America's Independence Day.

The circumstances of the bombing unfolds at an appropriate pace to help the readers understand. Despite the mature material of the war, military, and children like Jess, Sam, and Mereweather raising money for school supplies for a girls' orphanage and school in Kabul isn't far-fetched. Just hard to believe without adult supervision at times.

Still the book is a solid read for young readers. I felt the ending could have been further explained to what happened in a fictional sense to the characters.
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