It’s Veterans Day, and we want to remember that some of our veterans are barely out of their teen years. In 2012 a number of new teen books came out where a major character served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Each book is compelling in different ways, and are all quick reads.
In E.M. Kokie’s Personal Effects, 16-year-old Matt’s life is not easy. His brother, JT, was recently killed while serving in Iraq. His mother is gone, too, so he has to deal with his terrifying father all on his own. His father expects him to enlist if he can’t get into college. But Matt isn’t sure he wants to be a solider like his brother. He becomes fascinated by a small bag of his brother’s belongings the military gave to him. His father keeps them hidden after finding some kind of medallion he didn’t approve of. Matt becomes obsessed with finding those personal effects to learn what his father may be hiding about his brother. This book is gritty, and young readers, especially boys, will relate to Matt’s tough choices and how he tries to wrestle with his anger. This is Kokie’s debut novel for young adults.