I’m posting this review of two more excellent books I’ve recently read. Both are suitable for older teens and any adult looking for a really good story. In the publishing world these would be called “crossover” books—stories that appeal to adults as much as to children.
Seventeen year old Matt Foster is filled with rage. His father is a bully, his brother, T.J., was killed in Iraq and some peacenik kid at school has the nerve to suggest his brother died in vain. When he sees the kid wearing a shirt with the names of dead soldiers, including his brother’s, Matt loses it. “Pinscher turns and flattens back against the lockers. He’s talking, but I can’t hear him over the roaring in my head. Someone grabs my arm, but I shake him off and pull at Pincher’s shirt.” Matt ends up in the Principal’s office.
Matt’s father acts as if his brother never existed and expects Matt to join the army after high school. When T.J.’s personal effects arrive from Iraq, Dad hides them away, sending the clear signal that they are not to be touched. But Matt is determined to find out what is in that box. It’s all he has left of his brother.
In Matt, Kokie has created a troubled but empathetic character. With the help of his best friend, Shauna, Matt embarks on a journey to find out a secret his brother had been keeping. In the process he will not only learn a new truth about his brother, but will become a stronger person himself, better able to deal with his anger as well as confront his father.
“The young girl cringed when they buckled the eyeless leather mask around the upper half of her face and blinded her. It felt grotesque and unnecessary, but she didn’t object. It was the procedure. She knew that. One of the other Vessels had described it to her at lunch a month before.”
Son is the final book in the quartet that began with The Giver. Reading this book, I experienced the whole spectrum of emotions from fear, to grief, to heartbreak to joy. I chose to re-read the three previous books of this series, The Giver, Gathering Blue and Messenger, but it is not necessary. Each book stands on its own. Son is the resolution of the events that take place in The Giver.
Claire lives in an ultra programmed community where everyone is assigned a job according to their abilities. One of the lowliest jobs is Vessel, young women who give birth. The babies are then assigned to the proper married couple that is deemed to be the best parents for that particular child. Claire, as a Vessel, knows that she will give birth to a child she will not be allowed to ever see or meet. But circumstances change when the birth does not go as planned and she inadvertently discovers she has a son. Son takes Claire on a journey of self discovery as she is determined to find the son that was stolen from her. A sense of loss and longing permeates this novel, undoubtedly because Lowry lost her own son in a military accident. Prepare to shed more than a few tears when reading this one.