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Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am

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Ben has always had it pretty easy--with no acting experience, he landed the lead in his high school musical, and he's dating the prettiest girl in school. Haunted by memories of 9/11, he makes the decision to enlist in the army--with devastating consequences. Somehow nobody ever thought Ben would be one of the soldiers affected, but after his convoy gets caught in an explo Ben has always had it pretty easy--with no acting experience, he landed the lead in his high school musical, and he's dating the prettiest girl in school. Haunted by memories of 9/11, he makes the decision to enlist in the army--with devastating consequences. Somehow nobody ever thought Ben would be one of the soldiers affected, but after his convoy gets caught in an explosion, Ben is in a coma for two months. When he wakes up, he doesn't know where he is, and he doesn't remember anything about his old life. His family and friends mourn what they see as a loss, but Ben perseveres. Although he will never be the person he once was, this is the story of his struggle and transformation.


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Ben has always had it pretty easy--with no acting experience, he landed the lead in his high school musical, and he's dating the prettiest girl in school. Haunted by memories of 9/11, he makes the decision to enlist in the army--with devastating consequences. Somehow nobody ever thought Ben would be one of the soldiers affected, but after his convoy gets caught in an explo Ben has always had it pretty easy--with no acting experience, he landed the lead in his high school musical, and he's dating the prettiest girl in school. Haunted by memories of 9/11, he makes the decision to enlist in the army--with devastating consequences. Somehow nobody ever thought Ben would be one of the soldiers affected, but after his convoy gets caught in an explosion, Ben is in a coma for two months. When he wakes up, he doesn't know where he is, and he doesn't remember anything about his old life. His family and friends mourn what they see as a loss, but Ben perseveres. Although he will never be the person he once was, this is the story of his struggle and transformation.

30 review for Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am

  1. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Positives: A modern story about war that needs to be told. I just wish it had been done better than this. Quick read. Negatives: Poor editing, missing words, words that obviously ended up in the text because a lazy editor used spell check rather than actually reading the text. The story seemed way too short for all it wanted to convey. The authors couldn't choose which person to focus on so they tried to do a bit of everyone's point of view, not giving anyone true depth. The addition of the autis Positives: A modern story about war that needs to be told. I just wish it had been done better than this. Quick read. Negatives: Poor editing, missing words, words that obviously ended up in the text because a lazy editor used spell check rather than actually reading the text. The story seemed way too short for all it wanted to convey. The authors couldn't choose which person to focus on so they tried to do a bit of everyone's point of view, not giving anyone true depth. The addition of the autistic younger brother took away from the story...wasn't the story of a young man going to war and coming back brain damaged enough for 145 pages...did we really need to waste pages of text on how to write a sestina or the younger brother sleeping in a closet at a rest stop? Things that made no sense: A smart 18 year old girl meets a guy in the forest and feels the need for mace...then after only a short conversation with this stranger she gets into his car for a ride? Obviously these two male authors were never young women who had to fear for their safety in an often scary world. This same girl who is supposed to be a freshmen in college is shown liberally drinking at a bar with friends during finals....freshman are not 21 and can't go to bars. Most campus bars could smell a freshmen a mile away and card EVERYONE...just seemed odd that this was portrayed a typical evening out for an 18 year old...did these authors go to college when drinking age was 18? This book is not set in that time. If I had been their editor I would have asked whose story they wanted to tell? Then use that point of view. Or, if you want an overall view of everyone, you MUST make the book longer and give each character more time on the page. One second this kids parents are together and they you hear from another character they split...don't tell me, show me how this happens!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alex Baugh

    From the publisher: Ben lives a charmed life - effortlessly landing the lead in the high school musical, dating the prettiest girl in school. When he decides to enlist in the army, no one thinks he'll be in read danger. But his decision has devastating consequences: His convoy get caught in an explosion, and Ben ends up in a coma for two months. When he wakes up, he doesn't know where he is - or remember anything about his old life. His family and friends mourn what they see as a loss, but Ben pe From the publisher: Ben lives a charmed life - effortlessly landing the lead in the high school musical, dating the prettiest girl in school. When he decides to enlist in the army, no one thinks he'll be in read danger. But his decision has devastating consequences: His convoy get caught in an explosion, and Ben ends up in a coma for two months. When he wakes up, he doesn't know where he is - or remember anything about his old life. His family and friends mourn what they see as a loss, but Ben perseveres. And as he triumphs, readers will relate to this timely novel that pairs the action and adventure of the best war stories with the emotional elements of struggle and transformation. My Thoughts: I have always like Harry Mazer's books, especially his World War II Boy at War series. Mazer was an underage enlistee in WWII and knows what he writes about. Now Harry, together with Peter Lerangis, tackles the Iraq War, a war still fresh in our minds as is the on-going war in Afghanistan. Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am is written in three parts. The first part, Before, is the shortest and briefly explores who Ben Bright is, why he made his decision to enlist and the impact it has on those closest to him. As he is leaving on the train for Boot Camp, he proposes to Ariela, his long-time girlfriend. The second part, During, is somewhat longer and covers Ben's time serving in Iraq, the bomb that causes him to suffer a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and, of course, the feelings and reactions of his friends, family and Ariela, now his fiancée, when they hear about his injuries. After is the third and longest part of the story. Ben's family and friends struggle to come to terms with the way Ben is now, while he must relearn everything, including his memories. It is a hard struggle and takes its toll on everyone, but there is also a message of hope in this tragedy. The duo of Mazer and Lerangis shine in Somebody, Tell Me Who I Am. By not focusing only on Ben, we see that one person's decision, however noble it may be, and the resulting consequences have serious repercussions on the lives of everyone involved. Oddly enough, Ben has the least amount of action in the novel, in fact, he is almost only a catalyst for his injury, since it is really his TBI that has the real impact on those around him. Ben's story is a very poignant and very disturbing without being morbidly graphic. It is well-written and completely realistic. The characters are believable, compelling and strong and the transition from one point of view to another happens very smoothly. Ben's story will probably resonate for a lot of young people whose siblings, cousins, friends, husbands or wives may have served in one of this country's wars recently. And as a result, there are families all over the country whose loved ones may have suffered a traumatic injury while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. This short, but complex story deals with so many of the issues they are facing for real. And, at a time when there is talk about cutting veteran's benefits and services, I think this novel is certainly food for thought. This book is recommended for readers 12+ This book was purchased for my personal library.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    This book is the 2013 Schneider Family Book Award Teen winner. It has its ups and downs. The very likable Ben Bright has a terrific senior year of high school with his best friend Niko and his gorgeous girlfriend Ariela. It's a shock to his liberal family and friends that he decides to enlist in the army (post 9/11) rather than going straight to college. The book is divided into sections: Before, During, and After. The Before chapters are done well. The During chapters are the smallest section, This book is the 2013 Schneider Family Book Award Teen winner. It has its ups and downs. The very likable Ben Bright has a terrific senior year of high school with his best friend Niko and his gorgeous girlfriend Ariela. It's a shock to his liberal family and friends that he decides to enlist in the army (post 9/11) rather than going straight to college. The book is divided into sections: Before, During, and After. The Before chapters are done well. The During chapters are the smallest section, but they show the chaos of the war in Iraq and how afraid (if not disillusioned) Ben has become of even the smallest children in the villages his regiment's tank rolls through. With good reason, as it turns out. The After section is the longest. Ben is recovering from TBI (traumatic brain injury). His family, Niko, and especially Ariella are angry and despairing. The strongest parts to me, and what makes this book Schneider Award worthy, are the passages that take place in Ben's post-war mind. He can think clearly, but what comes out of his mouth is a jumble. He doesn't realize this and gets frustrated that people don't just understand him. His loss of memory is profound, and he gets weary of people coming at him asking if he remembers them. He becomes closer to his doctor than the man who says he's his father. These are things teens may not have read or thought of before. There is another character with a disability: Ben's younger brother Chris. Ben has an ASD, like a growing number of characters in literature for young readers today. Chris' smart, hyper-sensitive riffs are enjoyable and seem mostly true. It's touching that his unique honesty helps Ben make a big breakthrough. However, that's somewhat canceled out by Ariela's response: "He only knew who Chris was. Only his brother who, I know I'll rot in hell for saying this, doesn't feel a thing about him." Obviously, she's "upset." But I'm tired of characters treating ASD characters this way, as if we can all identify with it. The fact that Ariela stays faithful to Ben once he's wounded and she's off at college seems like the phoniest thing in the book. But, I guess, YA books need love stories. The authors of the book were brave to take on this subject. This book is thought-provoking and has teen boy appeal.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matt Thompson

    This book is about Ben Bright, a very talented young man with an amazing musical talent, above average grades, multiple scholarships to universities most kids only could dream of getting into, and a bright future ahead of him. As soon as Ben gets out of high school, he enlists in the army. His family is devastated. They have no idea way he would throw away his future and go to war. When they ask him what he’s thinking, he says he needs to give back to his country for everything it’s done for me This book is about Ben Bright, a very talented young man with an amazing musical talent, above average grades, multiple scholarships to universities most kids only could dream of getting into, and a bright future ahead of him. As soon as Ben gets out of high school, he enlists in the army. His family is devastated. They have no idea way he would throw away his future and go to war. When they ask him what he’s thinking, he says he needs to give back to his country for everything it’s done for me. While hes in Iraq, he writes to his family everyday, but one day when his family doesn't receive Ben’s letter, they learn that his military vehicle had ran over a bomb and Ben is now in critical condition. They don’t know if he’ll make it or not, and when he comes home he can hardly walk or talk at all, let alone know who is family his friends are and even where he is. This is what war does to everyone including friends, family and especially the troops. Who? Ben Bright, an all-around great student with a bright future, and his family and friends who are devastated when he enlists in the army. What? A young man with a lot of talent some people may say which he is “wasting” to go fight for his country. When? This book takes place in Iraq and United States over the course of 2011, 2012. Where? This story takes place in two different countries which are United States and Iraq where Ben gets called to go fight. Why? The purpose of this book I think, is to show the aftermath of war and the effects it has on everyone around us. Recommendation- I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a quick read with a tragic occurrence, or someone who likes books about modern military.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Last month I was lucky enough to snag this one from the library before too many people put it on hold since it was in the "New" pile and I had heard some pretty decent things about it. Luckily it turned out to be worth the read! While the book is extremely short (by my standards at least) I thought that the author(s) did a bang up job setting the story up carefully and in a way that is accessible to read for the older and younger teens who may read this book. The book itself was written really w Last month I was lucky enough to snag this one from the library before too many people put it on hold since it was in the "New" pile and I had heard some pretty decent things about it. Luckily it turned out to be worth the read! While the book is extremely short (by my standards at least) I thought that the author(s) did a bang up job setting the story up carefully and in a way that is accessible to read for the older and younger teens who may read this book. The book itself was written really well. Since I really don't want to write any spoilers in the post for anyone who may pick it up in the future let me just say that the book was a commendable effort on the part of the authors. While there was a lot of sadness in the book there was also the resounding feeling of hope that lasted all the way through. I really enjoyed how the whole book was written which is rare for me since I generally don't read contemporary YA novels. Since Ben was sent of to fight in the war it is a subject that touches home for many people not just the American people because The British and The Canadians are also dying in the sand with soldiers from other nations too. However the book makes a point that sometimes even if the men and women are lucky enough to come home sometimes they come back different. This is a story of love, loss, forgiveness, redemption and the power of family no matter if that family is through blood or forged in bands of strong lifelong friendships. It was a dramatic and beautifully written novel that I highly recommend to those who enjoy contemporary YA novels.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am is the story of Ben Bright, a teen who enlists in the Army immediately after high school. The book is told in three parts: "Before," "During," and "After." "Before" and "During are told mostly from Ben's point of view, but then some parts of "During" and most of "After" are told from the point of view of Ariela, Ben's fiancee. While serving in the Middle East, Ben's convoy is hit by an IED and Ben suffers a traumatic brain injury. When he wakes up back in America Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am is the story of Ben Bright, a teen who enlists in the Army immediately after high school. The book is told in three parts: "Before," "During," and "After." "Before" and "During are told mostly from Ben's point of view, but then some parts of "During" and most of "After" are told from the point of view of Ariela, Ben's fiancee. While serving in the Middle East, Ben's convoy is hit by an IED and Ben suffers a traumatic brain injury. When he wakes up back in America, he has no memories of his past life. With the help and patience of doctors, his parents, his best friends, his fiancee, and his autistic brother, Ben slowly recovers some memories. I wish that Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am was a completely unnecessary book but the reality is that there are lots of young people returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or TBI (traumatic brain injury). These young men and women may have trouble with day-to-day things such as grocery shopping or interacting with others in social settings, or they may have completely lost their memories. This book would resonate with the friends and families of returning soldiers. This was also a very quick read. At only 148 YA pages, and with a true-to-life storyline, this would be a great recommendation for a reluctant reader.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Peg

    Senior Ben Bright has it all--intelligence, good looks, a great voice, a beautiful girlfriend Ariela, a close friend Niko, and a tight-knit family; all think he is headed to college and a career on Broadway, but Ben has different ideas. His pride in and love of his country and his sense of duty lead him to enlist. Three months after graduation, he's in Iraq, where he is soon injured by an IED. The resulting TBI (traumatic brain injury) and year-long "recovery" impact all in different ways. Ben m Senior Ben Bright has it all--intelligence, good looks, a great voice, a beautiful girlfriend Ariela, a close friend Niko, and a tight-knit family; all think he is headed to college and a career on Broadway, but Ben has different ideas. His pride in and love of his country and his sense of duty lead him to enlist. Three months after graduation, he's in Iraq, where he is soon injured by an IED. The resulting TBI (traumatic brain injury) and year-long "recovery" impact all in different ways. Ben must relearn even the simplest of daily tasks and make sense of language, writing, and speaking. His parents' marriage suffers from the stress; Niko becomes a nearly constant figure in the Bright household as he struggles with guilt at not keeping Ben in the States; Ariela tries to have a "normal" college life; and Ben's autistic brother Chris swings from not understanding to violence to obsession with a poem he is writing about Ben as he struggles to make sense of what's happened to his brother. Powerful, honest, brutal, and ultimately hopeful, this short, quick read provides insight into an all too common scenario these days, clearly illuminating the impact on all while also shedding light on living as and with an autistic person.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    Hmm... this book was so short. It covers, in a year and a half, Ben Bright telling his family and friends he's enlisted, proposing to his girlfriend, going through boot camp and off to war, being injured in by IED and losing his memory, coming home, his family (parents, autistic brother, girlfriend and best friend) dealing with this, his struggles with identity after memory loss, his girlfriend's first year in college and almost-affair, his parents' separation and reunion, and his brother writin Hmm... this book was so short. It covers, in a year and a half, Ben Bright telling his family and friends he's enlisted, proposing to his girlfriend, going through boot camp and off to war, being injured in by IED and losing his memory, coming home, his family (parents, autistic brother, girlfriend and best friend) dealing with this, his struggles with identity after memory loss, his girlfriend's first year in college and almost-affair, his parents' separation and reunion, and his brother writing a poem. So, as you can imagine, it doesn't go into much depth for any part. It's well done enough that you can empathize with what the characters would be going through, but not enough that you feel you know any of them. The result, unfortunately, is that this books is quite forgettable.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sherra

    This book was not good at all. The book was about a guy named Ben who goes to war straight out of high school and he loses his memory in an explosion. At the end of the book, he gets his memory back. The other characters were his mother, father, brother Chris, and girlfriend. The story took place in Iraq during modern time. This book is realistic fiction. I rated this book 2 stars instead of 1 because I liked the storyline but didn't like the was it was written. The beginning of the book went st This book was not good at all. The book was about a guy named Ben who goes to war straight out of high school and he loses his memory in an explosion. At the end of the book, he gets his memory back. The other characters were his mother, father, brother Chris, and girlfriend. The story took place in Iraq during modern time. This book is realistic fiction. I rated this book 2 stars instead of 1 because I liked the storyline but didn't like the was it was written. The beginning of the book went straight into a scene without any backround information, which made it really confusing. I do not reccomend this book at all.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This was a very fast read. Ben Bright is the golden boy and theater star who surprises everyone (including his girlfriend)by enlisting in the army after high school graduation. He assures everyone that he won't be deployed overseas...but then he is. He is injured in an attack and suffers from Traumatic Brain Injury. This book tries to tell the story from Ben's perspective, but also his best friend, his girlfriend, and his family. A little much to tackle, but it provided - however small - a pictu This was a very fast read. Ben Bright is the golden boy and theater star who surprises everyone (including his girlfriend)by enlisting in the army after high school graduation. He assures everyone that he won't be deployed overseas...but then he is. He is injured in an attack and suffers from Traumatic Brain Injury. This book tries to tell the story from Ben's perspective, but also his best friend, his girlfriend, and his family. A little much to tackle, but it provided - however small - a picture of what the situation could look like from all sides.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Todd

    This probably got an extra half-star than it probably deserved because it exceeded my expectations. At 150 pages, there wasn't going to be the full development of characters that would have been in a 300 page book, so the focus was mostly on the recovery from a traumatic brain injury. Mazer and Lerangis did a great job not sugarcoating the slow, painful process for both victim and those close to the injured. This probably got an extra half-star than it probably deserved because it exceeded my expectations. At 150 pages, there wasn't going to be the full development of characters that would have been in a 300 page book, so the focus was mostly on the recovery from a traumatic brain injury. Mazer and Lerangis did a great job not sugarcoating the slow, painful process for both victim and those close to the injured.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Oheb

    I’ll be honest. At first, I was hesitant about reading this book. A picture of a dog tag on the cover? Less than 150 pages? I usually like to read ones above 200. I wasn’t so sure. This book was first recommended to me by the librarian who was working at the counter when I went to pick out a book for my Outside Reading book project. The woman who helped me raved about the book, and said that since so many teens were reading it, it was always off the shelf at their library. Taking her advice, I d I’ll be honest. At first, I was hesitant about reading this book. A picture of a dog tag on the cover? Less than 150 pages? I usually like to read ones above 200. I wasn’t so sure. This book was first recommended to me by the librarian who was working at the counter when I went to pick out a book for my Outside Reading book project. The woman who helped me raved about the book, and said that since so many teens were reading it, it was always off the shelf at their library. Taking her advice, I decided to give it a go, despite my weariness. After reading the book, I understood why she had raved about it so much. Overall, in the end I thought that the book, “Someone Please Tell Me Who I Am” by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis, was quite incredible on many levels. Below are some of the examples of why this book was such a hit, (except for a few weaknesses). The book included many real life aspects and examples of war, and portrayed them beautifully through Mazer and Lerangis’s good writing and carefully chosen and thought through characters. The main character, Ben, is a very likeable character, but may not be relatable to most people. In the beginning of the book, Ben is introduced as a person who seems to “have it all”. Ben is a straight A student, is successful in sports and in theater, and has a beautiful and loving fiance named Ariela. His character’s appeal changes after graduation, and he is suddenly determined to join the army, whether his family likes it or not. His family, who of course, is not happy with the idea of their son being deported to duty in another dangerous country, reluctantly agrees. Things go downhill, as a few months after Ben gets deported, his family receives a phone call that he has been injured in a major IED explosion. Fast forward one month and a few medical scares later, and Ben is back home, fighting for his life as he cannot retain much memory or even walk properly. The book definitely highlights the struggles that many young soldiers in the US go through, as they are deported and most often injured when they return. I can solidly say that the strengths of the book would definitely be the writing style and how you can feel the characters emotions as you read the book. In my opinion, Mazer does an excellent job of involving the reader, as when reading the book, I really felt like I was in the story along with the rest of the characters, going through what they were going through and feeling their intense emotions. For example, the many street battle scenes were written very realistically, which made it easier for me to feel as if I was in the story, experiencing it all. Though the scene that I feel really brings a deeper feeling of inclusion to the reader is the scene in which Ben has a flashback of memory while in the grocery store. It really feels as if you are experiencing the flashback with him. Inclusion of the reader, as these two examples portray, is one of the many qualities of good books that I really appreciate and enjoy. Although this book held many strengths, in my opinion, it also unfortunately had many weaknesses. Honestly, I felt like even though the story was thorough, it kind of lacked a ‘proper’ introduction and conclusion, in addition to the fact that it was very short. In my opinion, too short for this type of genre to be exact. From my point of view, the book kept on going straight into such intense scenes without even giving the reader any background information, which I found to be confusing and unhelpful. Though the scenes were really well written and engaging to read, I just wish that they had provided background info beforehand. I also would have assumed that since it's such a deep and emotional story, Mazer and Lerangis would have had more to write about, thus making the book much longer. Additionally, I didn’t quite enjoy how the book was broken up into a “Before” “After”, and “During” part. I don’t think that this was such a smart decision to make, given the book is so short. If the book was of longer length, then it would have been more appropriate to do. Another thing that slightly bothers me about this book is how ignorant some of the characters were written out to be. The book talks about how his parents, “never thought that their son Ben would be one of the soldiers affected”, as if they didn’t know that that would indeed be one of the biggest risks that came with joining the army. His girlfriend, Ariela, on the hand, also displays an example of ignorance. She is Ben’s fiance, which in my eyes would have made her more anxious about Ben’s deportation and the fact that after this life changing even he may never be the same person that he had been once before. On this note, the book really disappointed me, because her character did not actually show the emotions that I thought she would have. Perhaps I’m comparing it to how I would react if I was in that situation, but I still feel like her emotion could have been written out as more intense and even dramatic than it already was. I’ve come to to the conclusion that the rating of this book would be a solid four; because even though I loved this book, I also felt like although this book captured a lot of the reality of war, it could have been even more realistic. I also wished that it was longer, and didn’t jump from scene to scene so quickly. Also, I would have really liked it if it could have been written from other characters’ point of views instead of only from Ariela and Ben’s. But, I really did like this book and would use the words heartwarming, harsh, emotional, and raw to describe it. This book taught me some lessons and opened up my eyes to the harsh reality of the unimaginable. The bottom line is, I think that this book is quite fantastic, and I think that everyone, especially high school students, should read it at least once.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amy Huntley

    This is a great book for my ESL students. It's emotionally complex and deals with real issues, but at the same time it deals with them succinctly. My students don't get overwhelmed by text! I found the ending very touching. This is a great book for my ESL students. It's emotionally complex and deals with real issues, but at the same time it deals with them succinctly. My students don't get overwhelmed by text! I found the ending very touching.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mama Joy

    This is a quick, heartwarming read. I hesitated to give it five stars because I didn't want it to end, but that just means the story was that good, not that it was written poorly. I highly recommend it! This is a quick, heartwarming read. I hesitated to give it five stars because I didn't want it to end, but that just means the story was that good, not that it was written poorly. I highly recommend it!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erik Schmidt

    This is a captivating story about a young man who has everything going for him and how his life changes in an instant. The main character, Ben is a popular kid, good student and has the lead in the play at school. Everything is going for him in his life and then to the surprise of everyone, he decides to enlist in the army following in the footsteps of relatives. He suffers a horrible injury, and the book details how everyone is left to cope with these major life changes and the slow recovery. This is a captivating story about a young man who has everything going for him and how his life changes in an instant. The main character, Ben is a popular kid, good student and has the lead in the play at school. Everything is going for him in his life and then to the surprise of everyone, he decides to enlist in the army following in the footsteps of relatives. He suffers a horrible injury, and the book details how everyone is left to cope with these major life changes and the slow recovery. Mazer and Peter’s Somebody Please Tell Me Who I am haunted me with the realities of war. The theme of the book focuses on the tragedy of war, loss and recovery. Ben is a happy high school student who chooses to enlist in the military, and goes to Iraq. He works with a small group of soldiers tasked with improving the relationship with the Iraqi people, who distrust the military and U.S. On a trip one day, Ben’s Humvee is blown up, and he ended up in a coma. He is hospitalized back in the states, where everyone - Ben, his family and his girlfriend must come to grips with a new situation. When Ben comes out of the coma, his memory is completely gone. The book tells the story of the long journey from there. The style of the book is very serious and descriptive. One of the authors actually served in the military, and his experiences there really allowed him to describe realistic events and scenarios. I also felt that the family reactions described were very realistic. The book is very timely. It shows connections to the current work events, including the tensions between the U.S. and Iraq. The characters were very realistic. I could relate to Ben, since I am also a high school student. He sounded like the perfect kid that everyone would envy. Ben hid the fact that he was signing up for the military, because he was concerned with how his family would react. I can understand this. He also got engaged to his girlfriend before he left, he was probably worried that she didn’t think he cared about her. The setting for part of the book was Iraq. I found the description of this war-torn area to be thought provoking. It makes you think of what our military experiences. The story also showed how the Iraqi people really don’t trust the American people. In conclusion, I give this book 5 stars. I enjoyed reading it and it made me think outside of my everyday school life. It really made me understand how one second can change everything in your life and not only you are affected but loved ones too.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ryleigh Noonan

    I thought that thus book was very good and i definitely recommend it

  17. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Why I picked it up: Within the YALSA challenge, I’m trying to read at least one from every award/list. This is the only book on the list for the Schneider Family Book Award, so I needed it. High school senior Ben Bright is exactly that: bright, with a bright future. He has a long-term girlfriend, a family who supports him, and is quite smart & talented. When he decides to enlist in the Army instead of going to college, he does so almost sneakily so that no one can talk him out of it. While in Ira Why I picked it up: Within the YALSA challenge, I’m trying to read at least one from every award/list. This is the only book on the list for the Schneider Family Book Award, so I needed it. High school senior Ben Bright is exactly that: bright, with a bright future. He has a long-term girlfriend, a family who supports him, and is quite smart & talented. When he decides to enlist in the Army instead of going to college, he does so almost sneakily so that no one can talk him out of it. While in Iraq, he suffers a traumatic brain injury and returns to the US. I was underwhelmed by this one. First of all, it covers a year and a half in 148 pages. Too many things are just not given the attention that they deserve. We start as Ben has just gotten his orders to report for boot camp as soon as school gets out, then we are very briefly in Iraq, then there is the explosion, then he’s at Walter Reed in DC, then in California. It’s too much in too brief a time. The story doesn’t even begin to skim the surface of the subject matter here. And I liked the characters, especially best friend Niko, but they didn’t get the attention they deserved because there wasn’t time. It’s a quick read because it’s so short, but I’m not convinced there is enough here to make it worth it. Odd note: this is probably an “I’m completely crazy” thing, but I swear that girlfriend Ariela’s college is modeled after my own Kenyon. It’s in Ohio. The closest major airport is Columbus. There is a nearby town called Mount Morris that has a Mount Morris College of the Nazarene that the students call The Naz. (Mount Vernon/Mount Morris.) Ariela’s roommate wants to try out for an a capella group called the Creeks. (Owl Creeks/Creeks.) Running through campus is Center Path. (Middle Path/Center Path.) Ariela takes a drama class her freshman year; it is referred to as Baby Drama. There is an Environmental Center down a hill from campus. And if that’s not enough to convince you, the physical descriptions of the campus match, as do the descriptions of seeing familiar faces everywhere due to the small size of the student body. And the kicker: the fictional college is Chase College; Kenyon’s founder was Philander Chase. I checked and as far as Wikipedia can tell me, neither Harry Mazer nor Peter Lerangis went to Kenyon. But there are just too many things that are the same or almost the same for it not to be. Contains: underage drinking; war Challenges: YALSA Challenge: Schneider Family Book Award

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sherry Thompson

    Ben Bright is the All-American guy. He is smart and funny; he has a wonderful family and an incredible girlfriend. He is extremely talented, most recently playing the lead in the school musical, West Side Story. He has a great best friend, and everyone likes him. Why would he turn down a chance to go to college or to audition for a new television show? Patriotism and serving his country are more important to Ben, so he enlists in the United States army. He survives boot camp and is shipped off t Ben Bright is the All-American guy. He is smart and funny; he has a wonderful family and an incredible girlfriend. He is extremely talented, most recently playing the lead in the school musical, West Side Story. He has a great best friend, and everyone likes him. Why would he turn down a chance to go to college or to audition for a new television show? Patriotism and serving his country are more important to Ben, so he enlists in the United States army. He survives boot camp and is shipped off to Afghanistan to serve his first tour of duty. While there, his convoy is in a horrific explosion, which puts Ben in a coma that lasts for two months. The doctors say he has TBI, traumatic brain injury, which results in memory loss, mood swings, headaches, and also affects the senses. Upon awakening, Ben cannot remember his name or anything about his life and must go through extensive therapy to recover what he has lost. His accident and subsequent recovery affects everyone around him—his girlfriend, Ariela, his best friend, Niko, and his family, especially his younger autistic brother, Chris. Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am is one of the best books I have read recently. Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis did a terrific job collaborating on this novel. The street and battle scenes in Afghanistan make me feel like I am really there with the action. Additionally, there is a scene in a grocery store where Ben has a flashback; it is extremely believable and realistic. There is a lot of interesting information about autism worked into the story. I loved the scene where Chris uses a spreadsheet to write a poem; it was pure genius. There was such a change in the relationship between Chris and Ben from the beginning to the end of the story. Ben began as Chris’s hero, but it is Chris who ends up being Ben’s hero by bringing him back with his poetry. Also, it is Ben’s best friend, Niko, who becomes the rock for the Bright family, never giving up on Ben. While Ariela, Ben’s girlfriend, has wavering doubts about her future with Ben, she still never loses hope or cheats on him. The novel is the story of struggle, recovery, and relationships, but more, of love, perseverance, and overcoming astronomical odds. I highly recommend it for upper middle school and high school libraries. **Note: The copy reviewed was an ARC received from Library Media Connection in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    This review and more at wrapped up in books Told in three parts—before, during, and after—this is the story of a young man who decides to enlist in the army reserves after high school, though he had opportunities elsewhere and is leaving behind a loving family, his autistic brother, his best friend, and his fiancee. He suffers traumatic brain injury after an IED explosion. Though the story revolves around his accident and recovery, it’s more about how his deployment and condition change the lives This review and more at wrapped up in books Told in three parts—before, during, and after—this is the story of a young man who decides to enlist in the army reserves after high school, though he had opportunities elsewhere and is leaving behind a loving family, his autistic brother, his best friend, and his fiancee. He suffers traumatic brain injury after an IED explosion. Though the story revolves around his accident and recovery, it’s more about how his deployment and condition change the lives of everyone who cares about him. This is a very powerful, emotional story that will resonate with many readers. Because it is very short and told in a variety of formats, from traditional narration to text messages to Ben’s ‘memory journal’, it’s very modern and accessible. Though I’ve seen some criticism about the flat secondary characters or the lack of development of the plot, I think anything deeper would have felt almost exploitative. As it was, I was already crying throughout much of the book, so I don’t think it suffered from a lack of description. I thought the parents, best friend, girlfriend, and brother, not to mention Ben, were compelling and fully formed characters. Though this topic could have been controversial and politically divisive, this novel examines the human cost of the war on an individual level rather than the global context for the conflict that throws a bomb in the middle of these characters’ lives. Because of it’s perspective, it’s a great book for discussions in a classroom or book club. This novel was the recipient of the 2012 Schneider Family Book Award in the teen category, which honors a young adult book for its portrayal of people with disabilities. Not only do Mazer and Legranis do a fantastic job portraying the internal struggle of Ben as he copes with his memory loss, but it also features an autistic character who is very accurately depicted. There are a number of young adult novels that deal with the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and this is an outstanding addition to the list. I’d recommend this for fans of Personal Effects by E. M. Kokie and those who enjoyed Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brittany Newton

    Category: Fiction (Realistic Fiction/War) Source: 2012 Teacher’s Choice Awards This book is raw and real. I think that is why I enjoyed it so much. Harry Mazer doesn't sugar coat war, he tells is exactly how it is. Ben Bright had the perfect life. He finished his senior year in high school with a lead role in a school play and a girlfriend he loved very much. It came as a shock to everyone in Ben's life when he said that he was enlisting and going off to bootcamp. When Ben signed up to join the mi Category: Fiction (Realistic Fiction/War) Source: 2012 Teacher’s Choice Awards This book is raw and real. I think that is why I enjoyed it so much. Harry Mazer doesn't sugar coat war, he tells is exactly how it is. Ben Bright had the perfect life. He finished his senior year in high school with a lead role in a school play and a girlfriend he loved very much. It came as a shock to everyone in Ben's life when he said that he was enlisting and going off to bootcamp. When Ben signed up to join the military, he didn't think that he would actually have to go to war, but it's part of the package, right? Shortly after boot camp, Ben's family and fiance received a letter that Ben was going to war. While patrolling the streets in Iraq, an explosion occurred that would change Ben's life forever. The explosion caused Ben to have a traumatic brain injury. Ben would have to learn how to do everything again...walk, talk, speak, and function in every day life. Ben's life is now in disarray, will his family and friends find hope? Students often do not understand the sacrifices that are made for them every day. This books brings it to life. It is raw and discusses real, devastating events that happen every day to our military. It gives the reader a clear idea of what people face everyday...tragedy, fear, hope, sorrow, and loss. This is a short read, so it would be good to use in the classroom to talk about war and how it has affected us in the past and how it continues to affect us today. I enjoyed the elements of this book and I liked how the author tells the story from Ben's point of view "before" and "during" the war, but after his brain injury, the point of view switches to his family and friends. The only thing I wish the author would have included is more of Ben's recovery process. He skipped around during the months and I think that learning about Ben's entire recovery would have made the book more real. Overall, great read and highly recommended.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Josie M.

    I was excited to pick up this book. I thought the concept was intriguing and the story would be something that I would enjoy. Upon picking this book up at the library, I realized it was much shorter than I anticipated it would be. I was interested from the get go how the concept of this story would be executed for such a short book. I think the authors did an okay job of executing the concept but I found that because the book there were some problems that saw in the writing. The perspective of t I was excited to pick up this book. I thought the concept was intriguing and the story would be something that I would enjoy. Upon picking this book up at the library, I realized it was much shorter than I anticipated it would be. I was interested from the get go how the concept of this story would be executed for such a short book. I think the authors did an okay job of executing the concept but I found that because the book there were some problems that saw in the writing. The perspective of this book changes every few paragraphs or pages. I know that this was meant to give the story a broader perspective and allow the reader to see more angles of the story. I found this way of writing to be slightly hard to understand. This book is set up over a relatively long period of time and the chapters are set during different points over this time. I found this way of writing to be extremely difficult to follow. This element also made the story very choppy, it didn't flow very well. In my opinion, I felt like this book should have been expanded to better the connection between story and reader. Speaking of reader-story connections, For such a short book I felt like I connected with the characters pretty well. I got a little misty eyed once or twice while reading this book. But overall the story was too short for me to fall in love with it. Also, speaking of love, the love relationship of this book was lacking. I didn't really feel a connection between Ariela and Ben. This was disappointing. On the upside, this was a fast read. It combined many circumstances to create a unique story. Overall this book just wasn't that great. I feel like the authors had a great thing going for them with the concept and everything, but it ws just poorly executed. I give this book a 2/5 stars because of the many areas that were lacking. I would recommend this book if you are looking for a quick read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    Ben Bright is about to graduate from high school. He's an accomplished student, a talented actor/singer, dedicated boyfriend and brother. He's got everything going for him, except for the fact that he has yet to explain to all his loved ones that he's about enlist in the US Army. Boot camp gives way to deployment, everyone's worst fear. While on a routine mission, Ben's vehicle rolls over an IED, leaving all of its passengers with life-threatening injuries. Ben receives a massive brain injury th Ben Bright is about to graduate from high school. He's an accomplished student, a talented actor/singer, dedicated boyfriend and brother. He's got everything going for him, except for the fact that he has yet to explain to all his loved ones that he's about enlist in the US Army. Boot camp gives way to deployment, everyone's worst fear. While on a routine mission, Ben's vehicle rolls over an IED, leaving all of its passengers with life-threatening injuries. Ben receives a massive brain injury that essentially re-wires his entire brain. Everything must be relearned. Ben doesn't remember or recognize anyone from his past, making his homecoming more bitter than sweet. Hope seems elusive until Ben finally recognizes someone: his autistic brother, Chris. This is an extremely fast-paced read. Ben is not the typical soldier type. He's really altruistic about the whole enlisting thing and genuinely believes he can make a difference. His best friend and girlfriend take a considerable amount of convincing before they feel they can support his decision. Ben's brother, Chris, is underdeveloped in the first half of the book, but makes more of a showing post-deployment. I can't help but feel that more development of Chris's character would have greatly benefited the trajectory of the story. We see very little of Chris and Ben interacting before Ben leaves. A lot of focus is placed on Ben's best friend, Niko, and his girlfriend, Ariela. All three of the older kids are too good to be true and come across as a bit two-dimensional. The issues, however, are very timely, which makes this a good choice for book discussions, particularly where reluctant readers are involved.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    In Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am, Ben Bright makes a decision that not many people can understand: to volunteer to be a solider. When all of his friends are going to college, Ben has known that this is what he wants to do. I'm not a supporter of war, but I can appreciate his decision and his courage. The book is quite short at just over 140 pages and is divided into "Before," "During" and "After" the incident where Ben loses his memory. The action moves quickly and the reader is spared the go In Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am, Ben Bright makes a decision that not many people can understand: to volunteer to be a solider. When all of his friends are going to college, Ben has known that this is what he wants to do. I'm not a supporter of war, but I can appreciate his decision and his courage. The book is quite short at just over 140 pages and is divided into "Before," "During" and "After" the incident where Ben loses his memory. The action moves quickly and the reader is spared the gory details. It is also interesting to note that as soon as Ben is injured, the protagonist becomes a minor character for the rest of the book. The story becomes about how his friends and family handle how Ben's decision to join the army and his resulting injuries from his time in Iraq have turned him into a shadow of the person he was before. It's quite heartbreaking. Guilt, anger, fear, and hope are all working against Ben's family and friends as they attempt to cope with his condition. Arguably the decision to go to war and the risks associated are ones that will not only ruin your own life, but the lives of everyone around you. This is a story about a boy who made a very brave choice, but a choice that has devastating consequences. The story ends on a hopeful note as Ben makes progress with his recovery, although the ending is rather abrupt. At the centre of all the devastation is Ben, and just as his near-death experience was the cause of a lot of dysfunction and despair, his recovery might allow for the damage to be repaired. An interesting book, but the reader will have many unanswered questions at its conclusion. This YA novel is short, sweet, and to the point. It is an easy read and portrays the ugly realities of going to war.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    Harry Mazer has a talent for looking at the affects of war on young people, and his newest novel does just that. Ben Bright has the potential for a great future in the theater. He is in love with his high school sweetheart. He also feels a great deal for his country and feels obligated to sign up to join the reserves to help in this time of war. As you can imagine, his friends and family are worried about him and the dangers he will face. Unfortunately, their worries are not for naught as Ben is Harry Mazer has a talent for looking at the affects of war on young people, and his newest novel does just that. Ben Bright has the potential for a great future in the theater. He is in love with his high school sweetheart. He also feels a great deal for his country and feels obligated to sign up to join the reserves to help in this time of war. As you can imagine, his friends and family are worried about him and the dangers he will face. Unfortunately, their worries are not for naught as Ben is injured in a bombing while serving in Iraq. While the book is broken down in three sections (Before, During, and After), the focus is on the story of dealing with what happens after the bombing, when Ben and those around him have to deal with his TBI (traumatic brain injury). The story really pulls on the heartstrings, and it becomes difficult to see who the title really applies to: *Ben who has to relearn everything from talking to walking *his girlfriend/fiance who is now involved with a young man who is very different from the guy who proposed just as he was shipping off for an assignment. *his best friend Nikko, whose life is also being redefined *his brother Chris, who is struggling with his own disabilities while being confronted with his brother's new challenges *his parents who find their whole world being challenged by their older son's new status. The writing is incredible. While the novel, at 148 pages, is quite brief it rides the involved emotions to present a realistic presentation of the challenges being faced by so many of our soldiers as they come home with injuries .... physical, neurological, and emotional. I couldn't put this one down!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. While I always welcome books for teens that deal with the consequences of war and I found much to like in this book, it felt too short to do justice to the subject. Golden boy Ben Bright surprises his family, friends, and girlfriend by enlisting in the army. While his fiancee Ariela heads off to college, he travels to Iraq where he and his fellow soldiers are injured. Ben suffers from traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder and must relearn just about everything, including his While I always welcome books for teens that deal with the consequences of war and I found much to like in this book, it felt too short to do justice to the subject. Golden boy Ben Bright surprises his family, friends, and girlfriend by enlisting in the army. While his fiancee Ariela heads off to college, he travels to Iraq where he and his fellow soldiers are injured. Ben suffers from traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder and must relearn just about everything, including his name and the significant others in his life. In fact, the only one he seems to remember is his brother Chris who has autism. The story is told in snippets, sometimes moving rapidly over several months, and sometimes lingering on certain time periods that have significance. Not surprisingly, there are several ripple effects from his injury, including problems with his parents' marriage and Ariela's uncertainty about how to behave. While I applaud the authors for depicting her in such an honest light and describing Ben's long, slow journey to recovery in some detail, it was hard to summon much empathy for Ariela. In the end, while I was moved by much of what I read, I felt that the authors could have included more detail about the recovery process and family dynamics. The months that were skipped over might have been interesting to cover. The authors tackled a tough topic but included too many different elements to allow readers to focus on Ben. Sometimes it seemed that those around him were as lost as he was.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a fast read. It starts with Ben acting in his last high school play with his girlfriend and best friend. It's opening night and Ben has just received word that day that he has been accepted into the military. After later breaking the news, Ben's girlfriend, Ariela, and his best friend, Niko, show their disappointment. I thought Ben's reasons for joining the military felt rushed and forced, but when there's so few pages in a book, the ideas have to come across quickly. Ben is absolutely p This is a fast read. It starts with Ben acting in his last high school play with his girlfriend and best friend. It's opening night and Ben has just received word that day that he has been accepted into the military. After later breaking the news, Ben's girlfriend, Ariela, and his best friend, Niko, show their disappointment. I thought Ben's reasons for joining the military felt rushed and forced, but when there's so few pages in a book, the ideas have to come across quickly. Ben is absolutely positive that since he's joining the reserves, there is no way he will be sent overseas. Again, a little akwardly, we are told that Ben is being sent to Iraq through an email to Ariela, but not his parents. It seemed rather rushed. The next thing we know, Ben is in a convoy in Iraq and there is an incident where one of the Elmo dolls they had given to a village girl the week before, has been made into an IED and explodes, injuring Ben and sending him into a coma. He is later diagnosed with TBI (traumatic brain injury) and has to relearn everything, from who his family and friends are to how to write and talk again. Ariela and Nico and Ben's family all struggle with the "new" Ben who doesn't even recognize them. I thought there was a whole lot of subject matter in this skinny little book. For the reluctant reader, I suppose this book would move quickly enough and have enough action to be appealing but there's not a lot of substance here. I'm left feeling disappointed.

  27. 5 out of 5

    JilltheOWL

    I'll be completely honest. I didn't love this book. I didn't hate it by any means either, but I had hoped for more. It's a super quick read (160 pages). I finished it in pretty much one setting. And for me that was part of the problem. I wanted to feel more connected to all of the main characters, and I didn't because there just wasn't time to create that connection for me. I didn't care about Ben or Ariel (his girlfriend) enough for it to have a huge impact on me. I guess I just wanted more. Wha I'll be completely honest. I didn't love this book. I didn't hate it by any means either, but I had hoped for more. It's a super quick read (160 pages). I finished it in pretty much one setting. And for me that was part of the problem. I wanted to feel more connected to all of the main characters, and I didn't because there just wasn't time to create that connection for me. I didn't care about Ben or Ariel (his girlfriend) enough for it to have a huge impact on me. I guess I just wanted more. What was good was that it gave me an understanding of a part of war I've hear a lot about on the news, but really didn't know much about - Traumatic Brain Injuries. I've heard over and over about these, but never really completely understood what they were. This book did do a great job in helping me understand what a TBI was and how it affects everyone from the actual soldier to his or her entire family. I definitely appreciate the book for giving me that. That alone made it worth my time to read. The other aspect I really liked was the character of Chris - Ben's brother. Chris has autism, and he is one of the most realistic examples of autism I've seen. I also liked that it was played in a matter-of-fact kind of way. He had autism, and it was something they had to work with, but it wasn't made into a huge issue. It didn't take over the rest of the story, and I liked that. All in all - I'd recommend this book to my students. They might not have the issues I had with it, and I think boys will like that it jumps into the action pretty quickly.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laci

    This book was really close to home for me because I have many very close friends that are in the armed forces. So when I got this book in the mail I was very hesitant on reading it. I knew that this was going to be very hard for me to read, but I am really glad that I did. Ben wants to be different. He wants to do something that everyone he knows is not doing. He signed up for the army. To normal people this might be something that everyone does, but to this family this really doesn't happen. His This book was really close to home for me because I have many very close friends that are in the armed forces. So when I got this book in the mail I was very hesitant on reading it. I knew that this was going to be very hard for me to read, but I am really glad that I did. Ben wants to be different. He wants to do something that everyone he knows is not doing. He signed up for the army. To normal people this might be something that everyone does, but to this family this really doesn't happen. His family is not happy with his decision but they are going to support him. He goes through boot camp fine and he is ready to make the trip home but then they are told that he is going to Iraq. The one place his family feared that he would go. But he is ready for it. He wants to go. While there the worst thing imaginable happens. Ben gets hurt....really hurt. But there is one thing that his family never thought would happen, Ben doesn't remember how he is or who is family is. This is the one thing that I fear the most with my friends that are over seas fighting for my freedom. I hope that I never have to go through that. I personally thought this book was good. It was a great really easy read. I am really glad that I was given the opportunity to read this book. It helped me with my personal experiences with my friends. And I can say that that has never happened with a book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sally Kruger

    SOMEBODY, PLEASE TELL ME WHO I AM by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis is the recent winner of the Schneider Family Book Award. It was an excellent choice! High school senior Ben Bright surprises everyone when he decides to postpone college to enlist in the reserves. He is determined to serve his country so his family and fiance reluctantly support his decision. Not expecting immediate deployment, he heads off to boot camp. Ben does get an Iraq assignment right out of boot camp. He assures his family SOMEBODY, PLEASE TELL ME WHO I AM by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis is the recent winner of the Schneider Family Book Award. It was an excellent choice! High school senior Ben Bright surprises everyone when he decides to postpone college to enlist in the reserves. He is determined to serve his country so his family and fiance reluctantly support his decision. Not expecting immediate deployment, he heads off to boot camp. Ben does get an Iraq assignment right out of boot camp. He assures his family he will be going into friendly territory, and he'll be home before they know it. His fiance Ariela heads off to college and his best friend Niko works on finishing his last year of high school. Life changes for everyone when an IED explodes destroying Chad's unit's Humvee. Chad suffers a traumatic brain injury that leaves him in a coma and leaves his family and friends waiting to see what long term damage has been done. SOMEBODY, PLEASE TELL ME WHO I AM follows Chad and his family through the early stages of the recovery process. Author Harry Mazer tackles the subject of modern warfare and the horrific injuries our veterans and their families are struggling with every day. Chad's story is heartbreaking yet inspiring and will give teens a different look at what war means.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Annalee Schnebele

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. While this is very much an important story that need to be told, I had a lot of trouble with this book. The main problem - it's too short. There are so many things that happen in this very short book and so many characters that it makes everyone seem like a stereotype - the conflicted fiancee, the steadfast best friend, the parents with a strained relationship, the autistic younger brother. Wait, that last one wasn't a stereotype so much as a distraction in this very short book. (While I like th While this is very much an important story that need to be told, I had a lot of trouble with this book. The main problem - it's too short. There are so many things that happen in this very short book and so many characters that it makes everyone seem like a stereotype - the conflicted fiancee, the steadfast best friend, the parents with a strained relationship, the autistic younger brother. Wait, that last one wasn't a stereotype so much as a distraction in this very short book. (While I like the idea of his younger brother being autistic and it being Chris who helps Ben jump start his memory, in a book this short, it is another large layer that distracts from Ben and his traumatic brain injury.) This story would have been much more interesting if more time had been spent on Ben and his recovery. The short nature of the book does not give time to really give the reader the sense of how hard and how long his recovery process was. It seemed like we had checked in with Ben three times and with only one PTSD related episode, he was back! And he starts to remember things. Recommend for 8th graders and up who are interested in the military and military service and the consequences of modern war. Good recommendation for reluctant readers as it moves quickly and will be over even quicker.

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