In her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott says, “For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

My hope is that this is what books become to you—as important as almost anything else on earth. This blog is about helping you find the miracle in these small, flat, rigid squares of paper while you are in middle school and beyond. Once you read alongside me, you are forever a member of my tribe of readers. No matter how you old you are, when you need to be reminded of the power of a good story, you will find me here, waiting to place one in your hands.

Friday, June 15, 2012

SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL ME WHO I AM by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis

copyright date: February 2012
primarily marketed for: young adults (12 and up)

Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis is not your typical war book.  It tells the story of Ben Bright, high school drama star and promising student.  Ben decides to enlist in the army, but keeps it a secret from everyone with whom he is close to avoid being talked out of it.  He is aware of the risks, but he deeply feels a need to serve his country, to do something big. 

The book is divided into three sections: Before, During, and After.  Based on the title and the fact that the section titled ‘After’ is the lengthiest of the three sections, it is clear that things don’t go smoothly for Ben in the army.  He is injured and most of the book focuses on the impact of that injury on his family, his friends, and his life after military service.

This is not a book with a political message against war, like it might seem to be on the surface.  This is a story about humanity, about the reality of being human.

Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis have teamed up to create a meaningful story that is beautifully told, with lines like this one:
“Words were worse than useless; they were the enemy, hooks on which to hang anger and misunderstanding.”

If you like war stories, or even video games that mimic warfare, this is a book you need to read.  It is a short, quiet story of another side of war that will leave you feeling sobered yet hopeful.

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