Thursday, January 28, 2010

This month’s book: Back Home by Julia Keller

back home Back Home is the story of what happens to one girl’s life when her dad returns from the war in Iraq with sever injuries: he’s lost an arm and a leg and suffered a traumatic brain injury.  Rachel is 13, her sister Marcy is 8 and their little brother Rob is 4.  Their mom is the kind of parent who doesn’t keep secrets from her kids, even though she tends to give speeches, “My mother…is one of those people who believes she can get out ahead of things –bad things, I mean –by preparing everybody in advance, by speaking slowly and carefully about the sadness or confusion or frustration you’re about to feel.”  Rachel feels that she can’t ask silly questions like her little sister, but she wonders how much of a person needs to be intact to make you still the same person as before.  At first, her dad doesn’t seem to really be there at all. Not only does he not communicate, but he doesn’t respond to things going on around him.  The hospital said he should be able to do things for himself (like take care of his “personal needs”), but he doesn’t seem to want to.  Then Rachel realizes: “It’s not that Dad didn’t want to do things. It’s that the part of his brain that told him to do things was one of the parts that was injured. So what looked like laziness wasn’t laziness at all. When it looked like he just didn’t care, it wasn’t that he didn’t care. Caring, it turns out, comes from your brain. I know that’s a strange way to think about it, but it’s true: caring comes from your brain. The part of my father that wanted to do things wasn’t there anymore.”  This is a beautifully told story, and even though the ending might not be what you hope it will be, it is certainly realistic. 

Back Home will be available for pickup in the YA Dept. Monday, Feb. 1