For better or worse, I have read a lot of books about war, death, loss, and kids dealing with all of that. Some of have been moving and made me cry; some have been irritating and made me annoyed. Few, however, have hit me just right. Operation Yes, though, is one of those few.
Bo is the son of an Air Force colonel, living on base in Reform, North Carolina. They’ve moved a lot, of course, and he’s not had a good track record with school. That is, until sixth grade and his new teacher, Miss Loupe. Miss Loupe is one of those teachers — may we all be blessed enough to have one — who makes learning exciting. Oh, how I wanted to be a part of her class. She’s dynamic, she’s thrilling, and she has Bo totally and completely engaged. That is, until Gari — short for Garrison — shows up.
Gari is Bo’s cousin, and she’s (yes, that’s not a typo) come to stay with Bo and his family for a year while her mom, an Army nurse, is deployed to Iraq. To say that Gari is not happy about this is to wildly understate it. Gari is bitter, angry, and troublesome. And because Bo has the father he does, he gets blamed for much of the trouble that Gari brings. That is, until Miss Loupe’s brother, Marc, goes missing in Afghanistan, and Bo, Gari and a couple other classmates hatch a plan that will bring hope to everyone.
The book, from the first page, gave me a sense of what it means to work together toward a common goal. To deal with someone’s loss, both through distance and injury. To hope in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary. To dream. To walk to a different drummer. And it made me want to stand up and cheer. Everything about it, from the writing and characters down to the plot, had me hooked from page one. I couldn’t put it down; I didn’t want to put it down. And I didn’t want it to end, even though the ending is supremely perfect.
If you have to read one book about War and Loss (and even if you don’t), pick this one. You won’t regret it.
Rated: Mild — some talk about war and its impact