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- Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. (Flux Books)
- Publication date: 11/8/2012
- Pages: 274
- Source: eARC provided by publisher via NetGalley for review
With humor and honesty, neuropsychologist S. T. Underdahl explores the timely topic of post-traumatic stress disorder
If life were a movie, Dov Howard's role would be Emo Kid/Family Loser. His brother Brian would star as Master of the Universe. But that's okay. Dov's got great friends-and possibly a new one named Scarlett. Like everyone else, Dov loves his brother and is thrilled when Brian, a National Guard soldier, is sent home in one piece. Then things get weird. Talking to his jumpy brother is like juggling grenades, and Dov can't help but notice Brian's new best friends: Jack Daniels and the pistol he sleeps with. What will it take for his family to wake up and see the ugly truth?
I have been really into issue books in the past few months, and I have friends who have dealt with loved ones with post-traumatic stress, so when I saw this book I really wanted to read it. This book was very honest and does not gloss over anything. It is a very tell it as it is story about not only dealing with a family member with post-traumatic stress, but dealing with your own personally struggles too. This was book is full of many issues, including bullying, depression, abuse, and other things. It is a book that really makes you think.
Dov is a high school boy who has always lived in the shadow of his perfect brother. He has a few close friends, but his brother was Mr. Popular, does no wrong, and loved my everyone. Dov loves his brother more than anything and when he gets sent over to Afghanistan he goes into a depression. He dresses all in black, dyed his hair black, and is very emo. He has conversations with his pet gecko which is weird, but it shows that he has his own issues beyond all the other stuff going on. He also tries to befriend a new girl at school named Scarlett and I really liked how that goes. The thoughts he has when trying to figure her out really help you get to know him. When Brian comes back Dov hopes things will get back to normal, but instead they spiral further out of control.
His family is a total mess. Even before Brain was in the National Guard, things weren't right at home. His father is a trucker and is gone for weeks at a time. Even when he is home it's not like he acknowledges Dov unless it's to put him down or yell at him for something anyways. Dov has never been the child to get attention. His mom is there, but she never treated Dov the same as she treated Brian. It's like Dov is always an afterthought.
School isn't much better. There is a group of kids who are always picking on Dov and his friends and making emo jokes. He tries his best to ignore them though. His real escape is art. He loves art and is good at it. It also doesn't hurt that his teacher is really pretty and he has a silly crush on her.
This book was emotional and touching. We are in Dov's head and we watch as things fall apart all around him and watch him try to fix them. Not only his broken family, but his friends and himself too. This wasn't a book that makes you want to grab a box of tissues and cry, but it is one that leaves an ache in your heart. It's hard to read about the struggles that Dov faces. It's harder to read knowing that he is trying so hard to do something about it, but no one hears him. No, they hear him, it's just easier to ignore the problems instead of address them. This was a very honest book that shows us a peek into the life of someone affected by many issues including post-traumatic stress. If you enjoy issue books, this is a book for you. 3 out of 5 stars.