From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up–Levi Katznelson's older brother, Boaz, is home after three years as a Marine. He has been changed by the experience, which emerges bit by bit through his behaviors but not through his words. That's because he rarely speaks. He is home, in his room, and doesn't come out often. The radio is on static. He won't ride in cars. He won't see his ex-girlfriend. Levi can hear him screaming at night. The book isn't just about a traumatized soldier; it's about how everyone he knows and cares about is impacted by his changes. When Boaz finally leaves the house and tells the family that there's something that he must do, Levi follows him, not knowing his destination. During the several days that the brothers walk, he tries to reconnect to the brother he loved and possibly to save him from his internal torment. Reinhardt creates fully realized characters with terrifically precise and perfect details and dialogue that brings each moment alive to engage readers' senses. Reading this book is like having a deep conversation with a friend on a long walk. The characters don't seem like characters but feel bigger and more complex, and they live on after readers have turned the page. Reinhardt examines what it means to be a hero, the consequences of war, and what it takes to try to regain one's humanity. A powerful and timely portrait of young men trying to make sense of their lives–Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Oakland, CA. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* In a Boston suburb, Levi’s older brother, Boaz, has just returned from fighting in “some desert country half a world away.” The U.S. Marines say Boaz is “healthy,” but Levi thinks otherwise; Boaz doesn’t want to ride in a car, sleep in a bed, or even come out of his room, and he dives for cover at unpredictable moments. Levi misses Boaz as he remembers him, before he left two years earlier: a high-school hero; a happy, well-adjusted son and grandson; and a difficult but still-wonderful older brother. Reinhardt’s poignant story of a soldier coping with survivor’s guilt and trauma, and his Israeli American family’s struggle to understand and help, is timely and honest. The clever, authentic dialogue beautifully captures the disparate dynamics of the family, friends, and marines in the brothers’ lives. Indeed, the characters seem so real that they may live in readers’ minds long after the final page is turned. Unlike Walter Dean Myers’ Fallen Angels (1998), about Vietnam, or Sunrise over Fallujah (2008), set in Iraq, this novel is not anchored in a specific war, but Reinhardt sensitively explores universal traumas that usurp the lives of many soldiers and their loved ones. Readers won’t soon forget Boaz and Levi’s search for understanding and the healing power of love. Grades 9-12. --Frances Bradburn