Saturday, March 19, 2011

Operation Yes by Sara Lewis Holmes

I have often wondered what happens to children when their custodial parent gets called up for a tour of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan or some other hostile environment. Where do the kids go and who takes care of them? In this book, Gari's mother gets called to work in a field hospital in Iraq (the father is no longer in the picture), and Gari must leave her home and all her plans for her first year of Junior High and move to North Carolina to live with her cousin. At first she makes plans to get her mother to come back. She considers faking a serious illness, or staging a shocking anti-war protest. When the brother of her charismatic 6th grade teacher is severely wounded in Afghanistan, Gari, and her cousin, Bo (whose father is also facing an overseas deployment) team up to do something big to help their teacher. This book reminds me of a Andrew Clements book (e.g. Frindle, or the School Story). It is about children that are able to accomplish something amazing. In a way, it is deeper than the Clements books because Holmes explores the feelings and conflicts of her characters much more thoroughly than Clements does. Gari and Bo are very believable 12 year olds, and even the minor characters have clear and unique personalities. I also liked the fact that Holmes deals with the fear and anxiety faced by military kids, but nobody actually dies (a rarity in realistic fiction). This is a good choice for kids who have connections to the military, or for anyone who is looking for a realistic contemporary fiction with a feel good message. (234 p)

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