Jeremy has returned after doing three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan but he is not the same Jeremy that left. The town thinks of him as a hero but Jeremy doesn’t feel like a hero, he is haunted by the war and when he thinks about his fellow serviceman Atwell, Jeremy is overcome with emotion. Did he really do everything he could have done? There is a hardness to Jeremy, a wall that he brings with him and he not willing to remove this wall or share why this wall came home with him. Camped out in the basement of his childhood home, his wife and children live close by and he does stop to see them but he tries to keep his distance. Shane, his younger brother is on the football team at school and after getting hit hard in a game, makes a touchdown for the opposing team. Humiliated, Shane immediately walks off the field, where he finds Jeremy and the two boys decide to take off. Life is just too difficult for them both right now. It is a concussion that Shane has suffered which made him confused when he made the touchdown for the opposing team, but he had let his team down and he feels ashamed. It just feels right that the two of them get away for a while, perhaps Shane can help his brother with the issues that he has been having. It’s not an emotional time for the boys, it is more of an adventure as Jeremy takes Shane on a canoe trip that Shane feels lasts forever. Shane mind is elsewhere at first, as he is worried and scared concerned about where this trip will take them but as the trip continues the relationship between them changes.
I liked the relationship between the brothers. They each were trying to protect each other in their own way and they each had their own issues that were dealing with. Shane tried to look out for him yet, Jeremy was looking out for him also. The ending, I wasn’t expecting that, but it worked in its own way. Jeremy’s issue took center stage in this novel and I liked the way that the author drew attention to it without throwing it in your face: the way Jeremy was constantly taking apart and putting together his M16, the way he looked over his shoulder repetitively, the way that Shane looked at him, and the way that he never slept, etc. A great book about living with challenges, about war, and about family and relationships.
I received a copy of this novel from Candlewick Press, thank you for sending me a copy of this novel. This review is my own opinion.