Thursday, April 18, 2013
Valerie O. Patterson
Jess, Merriwether, and Sam are regular teens who happen to live at the Fort Spencer Army Base in Florida. Jess's father and Merriwether's mother are serving in Afghanistan. Sam's father is the base commander. The three are very close friends; however, Jess's mom worries that children of enlisted soldiers should not socialize with officers' children. Jess has spearheaded a drive to send school supplies to children in an Afghan orphanage. Her father has sent her photos and she is particularly attached to Warda, a young girl pictured standing near an oleander plant. Since that flower also blooms in Florida, Jess has named the project Operation Oleander. However, not everyone, including Sam's father, is thrilled with the project. Some think that the military personnel should not be putting themselves in danger by delivering the supplies. One morning while setting up the donations table in the PX, Jess's world is turned upside down when news comes of an explosion near an Afghan orphanage. Reports come of injury and even death to some soldiers from Fort Spencer. The entire base pulls together at this tragic time, but some will blame Operation Oleander for the incident. Jess learns very painful lessons in this poignant novel. 2012, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Ages 12 to 18, $16.99. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson (Children's Literature).
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