School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr 10 Up-In this gripping debut novel that doesn't pull punches, Matt, 17, is still reeling from the death of his brother, T.J., who was killed while serving in Iraq. He's getting into fights at school, his grades are falling, and he's becoming distant with his friend and crush, Shauna. When three trunks of T.J.'s belongings arrive on his doorstep, Matt discovers his brother's long-time relationship with Celia Carson by reading through stacks of letters. At the bottom of the trunk, still sealed and addressed in T.J.'s handwriting, is the last letter his brother wrote to Celia, but never got to send. An impromptu road trip from Pennsylvania to hand deliver the letter sounds like a great escape from final exams and his volatile and violent father. However, in Wisconsin, Matt discovers a side to his brother he never knew: T.J. was gay and had a long-term relationship with Celia's brother. Could this be the incentive Matt needs to break away from his father's blind insistence that he pursue a future in the military? Kokie beautifully crafts a story about the troubled relationships between an emotionally stunted father and his two sons. Both T.J. and Matt are forced to deal with their own pain in secret. A strong choice for reluctant readers and lovers of realistic fiction alike.-Richelle Roth, Boone County Public Library, KY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Devastated after his beloved older brother, T.J., is killed on active duty in Iraq, Matt, 17, combs through T.J.'s personal items sent home by the army. After finding passionate love letters from someone called Celia, Matt travels to find her in Madison, where he is shocked to discover his brother's secret. Some of the characters are not fully developed. Matt's bullying father is completely demonic as he pushes Matt to be a man, not a fairy. In contrast, Matt's sexy girlfriend, Shauna, is too perfectly supportive and understanding. But Matt's first-person, present-tense narrative, with its fast, contemporary dialogue, will grab readers right from the opening scene, where enraged Matt gets in trouble at school for pummeling a self-righteous antiwar bully. At the core is the brothers' close bond, and most moving is Matt's coming to terms with his own prejudice and his guilt and anguish about T.J.: He never told me what was in his head. . . . And I didn't ask. --Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist