09. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books

Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis, 160 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/30/2013

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.

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