A single parent is suddenly called to serve in the Persian Gulf War.
In early August 1990, eleven-year-old Jasmyn Williams is shocked when her mother, a member of the Army Reserve, is called to active service. Within thirty-six hours, she is gone. Jas and Andrew, her baby half brother, are left in the care of her mother's boyfriend, Jake, who has never been responsible for Andrew, much less Jas. At first Jas is filled with anger. Then, despite the sacrifices she must make, including precious basketball practice, Jas comes to understand that her mother has to do her job. Still, she wonders, should a mother have a job that might require abandoning her children? Alice Mead, always an advocate for children, takes a firm stand on their behalf even as she creates a heroine who could probably adjust to anything.
After relating a child's firsthand experience of war in Kosovo in Adem's Cross, Mead turns to the home front for this less harrowing novel set during the time of Operation Desert Storm, told through the eyes of an 11-year-old American. Jasmyn Williams and her 10-month-old brother go to stay with their mother's boyfriend, Jake, when their mother is called to active duty in the Persian Gulf. Besides being worried about her mother's safety, Jasmyn resents her many new responsibilities; she now must cook, clean and baby-sit her brother in the afternoons and has less time for basketball. She fears she will have to relinquish her captain's position to haughty Bridget O'Donnell. The narrative is drawn-out in the beginning and rushed at the end, but the reactions and emotions of the heroine are consistently authentic. The author makes no excuses for the harshness of government policies, and her writing remains sharply focused on Jasmyn's adjustments to change, her growth as an individual and her gradual acceptance of Jake as a substitute parent. Ages 8-12.