After five years of being homeschooled on the road by her truck-driving father (who is also a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), Hayley returns “home” for her senior year. You would think that would mean everything was coming up roses, but they’re not. Hayley’s dad, Andy, can’t seem to keep a job, spending his days and nights drinking and smoking pot, self-medicating to avoid his recurring nightmares. At school, Hayley is confronted with students whom she calls “zombies”: kids who smile through the day, when there is pain, suffering, and hoops to jump through. Honestly, why would she want to suffer through day after day of monotony, when the life of someone she loves is going to hell?
Perhaps the reason you should read this (other than it’s Laurie Halse Anderson) is that even though Anderson writes about PTSD and the effects it has on the lives of those who have it (and their families), she doesn’t just write about the condition. As in her previous books, she writes about the people. And (again, like in her other novels) she doesn’t just write about PTSD, she writes about the issues surrounding it: like how hard war is on both the vets and the families; and how the community, however well meaning they may be, doesn’t always understand how hard war is; and how no matter how much you love a person, they’re not going to be able to get help until they want to get help.
It’s honest, but it’s not depressing. And it’s worth reading, if only because it’s Laurie Halse Anderson. But also because it’s an excellent book.
Rated: High for a fair amount of mild swearing, but no f-bombs (I’m pretty sure, anyway), violence (some of domestic, some of it military), and drinking and drug use, some of which involve teens.