Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back Home by Julia Keller

“I guess you would call us a normal family. Once a month, and sometimes other times, too, Dad would be gone for a few days. Mom told us that he was in the National Guard. We were normal, you could say. And then we weren’t.”

Rachel “Brownie” Browning is thirteen when her father comes back from the war in Iraq. Of course she understands that he has been injured and that he will be a little different, at least for a while. But Brownie doesn’t even know the man with a prosthetic arm and leg who sits in the living room day after day. He’s certainly not the father who helped her build a fort in her backyard, or played basketball with her sister, or hauled her little brother around like a sack of potatoes.

Brownie’s mother says that because of his traumatic brain injury, their father needs their affection and patience. In time, he’ll be better–Dad will be back. But Dad doesn’t seem to be making much progress, or much effort. He doesn’t smile. He doesn’t talk. He won’t even get out of his wheelchair, even though the doctors have taught him how and say that walking is essential to his recovery. And Brownie begins to wonder, will her family ever be able to return to the way life was before the war?

A story about an ordinary family forced to deal with an extraordinary loss, Back Home tells the tale of families scarred and the battle just beginning when their wounded loved ones return home.

Back Home was a very emotional, real, and valid book. I'm so surprised I haven't encountered a book dealing with children of people hurt in the Iraqi war. Maybe there are some out there but I haven't encountered them.

I found Rachel to be a really insightful narrator. Though she is 13 I was surprised how much she was willing to admit to rather than avoid the truth and make things up. I think she could be a role model for children going through the same situation. It was also nice that she had two younger siblings and we could see what it was like for them to go through, how they all reacted differently.

The book really shed some light on traumatic brain injuries and how it may look like someone isn't trying or they don't care, but that's not it at all. Because of their injury their brain isn't sending the right signals to the rest of the body to respond the way it should.

Because of her father's condition, slowly her friends begin to lose touch so most of the book is centered around her home life. I think I would have liked to see Rachel outside of her home a little more, maybe in school to really see more of how it impacted her schooling and friendships.

I wondered if the book would touch on the sides people take in a war and it did, I think in just the right way. It wasn't really the center of the book but both sides of the fence were talked about. I also really liked how the book didn't shy away from anything and I found the ending to be very realistic.

Definitely an interesting and important book!

Back Home was released on September 8th!
Genre: Young Adult
3.5/5 Stars
ARC provided by public relations firm


  1. It does sound both interesting and important. And you're right, I haven't seen many books that deal with how children cope when their parent comes home damage from modern warfare.

  2. This does sound like a very important book. It's too bad we tend to forget about the servicemen and their families after they return from war.

  3. I've never encountered a book like this either, & it does sound good. It's good to see a young adult book that kids in her situation could relate to, & a nice reality check from all the vamp books & "Gossip Girl"-ish YA books floating around. Sounds like a refreshing & informative read!

  4. Oh and Happy Birthday, by the way!!

  5. Anonymous5:07 PM

    (^ What she said. Happy birthday.)

    I think I'm going to /have/ to read this...

  6. I started to read this. I didn't finish because I had some other books going at the time, but I thought the premise was unique.


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