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Monday, January 30, 2012

The Summer Before Boys

Nora Raleigh Baskin’s The Summer Before Boys is a reflective novel about growing up and the difficulties military kids have in the absence of their parent during wartime. Julia, the narrator of the story, is Eliza’s aunt although they are both twelve-years-old. It is summer and Julia’s mother, a member of the National Guard, has been deployed to Iraq for the past ten months. Julia spends weekdays with Eliza, anxiously anticipating her mother’s return from war. The storyline bounces back and forth between Julia and Eliza’s summer expeditions, the statistics of military women and the loss of lives during the different United States conflicts, and the time Julia spent in counseling with Peter (a boy whose father also served in Iraq). Although Julia wants a normal summer and hopes to get to know a boy named Michael better, her mother’s welfare is always on her mind. When Julia chooses meeting Michael over spending time with Eliza, Eliza’s safety is in jeopardy and their friendship may never be the same. My niece has had to live with the fear of her father’s well-being while he served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. She is currently in 7th grade and she probably cannot talk about that time without getting emotional. Thank you to Nora Raleigh Baskin for sharing the stories of our military children – they fight a different battle on the home front, but it is no less of a fight. Thanks for also dedicating this book to the brave men and women in our armed forces and their children. This is going on my sixth grade reading list next year. Other great books by Baskin include Anything But Typical, Basketball (or Something like It), and The Truth About my Bat Mitzvah.

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