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|Somebody, please tell me who I am|
Author: Mazer, Harry
Wounded in Iraq and treated for traumatic brain injury, the first person Ben remembers is his autistic brother.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: UG
Reading Level: 4.10
Points: 4.0 Quiz: 150156
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 9-12
Reading Level: 3.70
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 55409
School Library Journal - 01/01/2012 Gr 8 Up—When Ben Bright enlists in the army after graduation, his family and girlfriend are shocked, and his friend Niko berates himself for not trying to make him stay, even though he knows, "convincing Ben to do anything was like trying to talk the words off a street sign." His girlfriend, Ariela, who becomes his fiancée, takes the promise of his engagement ring seriously, but when he suffers a head injury from an I.E.D. explosion not long into his Iraq tour, her worry and guilt compound an already demanding freshman year at college. Meeting a kind guy at school makes Ariela feel less lonely, but further complicates her life. Niko provides stalwart support to the family now in crisis. Ben's younger, autistic brother, Chris, is also well drawn. His single-mindedness protects him from fully comprehending what's happened, but also makes him prone to violence when he gets upset. Chris's poems slowly provide him with a voice and a way to connect with his brother. While Ben struggles with putting the scattered pieces of his life back together, readers understand that even his less-appealing characteristics—his stubbornness, for instance—will be necessary for his recovery.—Georgia Christgau, Middle College High School, Long Island City, NY - Copyright 2012 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 03/01/2012 In May, Ben tells his family and friends he’s joining the army after graduation; in June, he goes off to basic training; in July, he’s deployed to Iraq; in September, his vehicle blows up and he’s returned stateside with a traumatic brain injury. His girlfriend, his best friend, and his family, all sick with grief and worry, come together to support Ben as he struggles to recover and communicate. The book is compact and sharply focused, with “Before,” “During,” and “After” sections that mark out three momentous stages of Ben’s experience. The story’s very brevity and spareness, however, make it feel more like a sketch than a finished novel, and the secondary characters, who take center stage during much of the book, never really come alive. More compelling is Ben’s kaleidoscopic and confusing view of the world as he tries to piece together reality with his limited ability and information; the book’s deft third-person focalization conveys the reality of the events and of Ben’s impairment alongside his damaged understanding, making it clear both how close he comes and how far he remains. While this is a less effective story than Suzanne Williams’ Bull Rider (BCCB 1/09), also about a returning vet with severe rehab challenges, its accessibility and directness may help readers understand how many things aren’t over just because a war ends. DS - Copyright 2012 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 02/15/2012 Ben has the talent to be a star on Broadway after high school, but instead “Broadway” just becomes his nickname with his buddies in Iraq. Ben’s e-mails to his longtime girlfriend (now fiancée) Ariela portray a young man much changed from the one she and Ben’s best friend, Niko, remember. When a blast sends Ben home with a traumatic brain injury, Ariela and Niko deal with Ben’s condition differently. Screwball Niko becomes an introspective and constant companion to Ben’s mom and autistic brother. Ariela, away at school, buries herself in new relationships while keeping Ben in her heart. Ben emerges from a coma struggling to remember anything about his past self, including how to speak, construct meaning, and recognize loved ones. This is an easy read about a difficult and important subject, with realistic characters whose depth is implied more than explained. Although the reader may despair at the tragic turn of a young man so full of promise, the ending offers a glimpse of light at the end of what will be a long, dark tunnel. - Copyright 2012 Booklist.