From award-winning author Todd Strasser comes a gripping new novel that explores the struggles of war, the price paid by those who fight in them, and what it really means to be a hero.
Jake Liddell is a hero.
At least, that’s what everyone says he is. The military is even awarding him a Silver Star for his heroic achievements—a huge honor for the son of a military family. Now he’s home, recovering from an injury, but it seems the war has followed him back. He needs pills to get any sleep, a young woman is trying to persuade him into speaking out against military recruitment tactics, and his grandfather is already urging him back onto the battlefield. He doesn’t know what to do; nothing makes sense anymore.
There is only one thing that Jake knows for certain: he is no hero.
Strasser (No Place) again tackles a difficult contemporary issue, focusing on Jake, a young, wounded war hero returning home from an unspecified war "over there" with heavily conflicted feelings. An idealistic high school student from a proud military family, Jake was swayed by a recruiter to enlist. After a year of combat, he is angry and disgusted by what he and his fellow soldiers have inflicted on others and by what they have endured or sacrificed. On the way to rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Jake is celebrated in his hometown by his family, the media, and the general public, but he feels much ambivalence about finishing his deployment, and grows deeply uneasy about being honored. Strasser moves back and forth between Jake's experiences on base and in battle (described in detail) and his challenges at home. Jake's internal debate over whether enlisting is a choice or if wars are too often fought by the poor, minorities, and "guys like me who are seduced by the action ads and unethical recruiters," is thought provoking. An epilogue presents a satisfying resolution to his struggle between feeling as if he's letting his family down and being true to himself. Ages 12 up.