Koehler. Oct. 2020. 246p. Tr $27.95. ISBN 9781646630189; pap. $17.95. ISBN 9781646630165.
Gr 7 Up–Fifteen-year-old Sandee Mason’s older brother, Bri, disappeared seven months ago while serving in Afghanistan. She misses him terribly but also feels like she lives in his shadow, so she decides to join her high school’s drama department. Perhaps she’ll finally discover her talent and start to fit in. After an unsuccessful audition for a part in her school’s upcoming production of Oklahoma, she lands a crew role instead, Assistant Stage Manager. Sandee is determined to do her best and gain recognition and respect from everyone in the play. At a support group meeting for people with family in the armed forces, Sandee befriends Tessa, whose sister also went missing in Afghanistan. Sandee is able to connect with Tessa in a way she hasn’t been able to with anyone else. One day after school, Sandee learns that Bri is dead; now Sandee and her family must process and struggle with the painful reality of his death. This story is important especially because it centers around a family coping with loss, grief, and acceptance. However, one drawback of the novel is that the dialogue between characters often feels excessive and unrealistic. Most of the characters present as white, except for Sandee’s ex-boyfriend, Diego Rivera.
VERDICT A helpful and relevant addition to YA contemporary fiction collections, especially for teens interested in learning about the military, or who have an enlisted family member.

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