Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mini-Review: Shooting the Moon

Shooting the Moon by Frances O'Roark Dowell. (Grades 5-8.)

The Vietnam War seems to be a popular topic on the Caudill lists lately. This year we have Shooting the Moon and The Wednesday Wars. Last year we had Letters from Wolfie.

This one got some Newbery buzz this year and here's what I thought when I read it last February (warning: there may be a slight spoiler at the end of this review. Read at your own risk if you are sensitive to spoilers!).

"When Army brat Jamie Dexter finds out her big brother TJ has been sent to Vietnam to fight, she's ecstatic. Her father, The Colonel, has raised Jamie and TJ to support the army way and to take pride in fighting for their country. Jamie declares that if she was allowed to enlist, she would immediately do so. Since she can't go fight, Jamie looks forward to her brother's letters. She's sure they're going to be filled with all the action and adventure going on at the front, so she's surprised when TJ sends her a cannister of film and asks her to develop it for him. Puzzled, Jamie learns to develop film and soon TJ sends more and more cannisters. As Jamie begins to get a look at what's going on in Vietnam, the things her brother can't write home about, and as Jamie befriends an army private who works in the rec center, she begins to change her opinion about the war.

The ending seemed really abrupt and although I appreciate the fact that it wasn't completely depressing, it seemed like it tied things up a bit too neatly. I thought it was interesting to see Jamie's perception of the war and of her father change throughout the book."

Read more reviews at A Patchwork of Books, A Fuse #8 Production, The Reading Zone, Becky's Book Reviews, 100 Scope Notes, and A Year of Reading. Check out Betsy's Winter Blog Blast Tour interview with Frances O'Roark Dowell.