Tin Soldier

264p. (The Seven Sequels). ebook available. Orca. Oct. 2014. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781459805460; ebk. $10.95. ISBN 9781459805484.
Gr 7 Up—After stumbling on a cache containing fake passports, foreign currencies, and a gun, Jim Webb throws himself into a mission to redeem the legacy of his late grandfather, David McLean, a Canadian Vietnam War veteran who may have been involved in a sordid scheme involving forged identities and stolen jewels. He crisscrosses the American South with black veteran Lee Knox, following leads, but someone in a powerful position is bent on stopping them at any cost. Action drives the story, but it coheres in the contentious yet warm banter between Webb and Knox. Brouwer peppers the text with references to Canadian culture, especially the Canadian Football League. Webb's background allows him to blend in as an American and to maintain an outsider's perspective, leaving opportunities for Lee to teach him about American racism and the wounded history of Vietnam without seeming overly didactic. Brouwer confidently lays out the moral complexity of the war itself and unflinchingly confronts the history—and present—of racial prejudice. There are some rough spots. A long section beginning at CIA headquarters and ending in the office of a corrupt congressman stretches credulity, though it never quite crosses into farce. This is part of a second series (Orca, 2012) about McLean's seven grandsons and the missions laid out for them in his peculiar will, but it can stand alone. A good choice for older reluctant readers or students interested in recent history. (Ed. note: Annotations for the other books in this series are included on p. 156.)—Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson Middle School, Falls Church, VA

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