Mike was seven when his father was killed in mysterious circumstances in Afghanistan. Eight years later, the family still hasn’t recovered: Mike’s mom is overworked and overprotective, his younger sister Mary feels no connection to the father she barely remembers, and in his quest to be “the man of the family,” Mike knows he’s missing out on everyday high school life.

Then, out of the blue, Mike receives a letter from his father — the first of a series Dad wrote in Afghanistan, just in case he didn’t come home, meant to share some wisdom with his son on the eve of Mike’s 16th birthday. As the letters come in, Mike revels in spending time with his dad again, and takes his encouragement to try new things — to go out for the football team, and ask out the beautiful Isma. But who’s been keeping the letters all these years? And how did Dad actually die? As the answers to these mysteries are revealed, Mike and his family find a way to heal and move forward at last.

Recognition:

Junior Library Guild selection, 2014


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“Powerful and emotionally raw, with sympathetic characters and a thought-provoking premise, this tale reflects Reedy’s strengths: evoking the small-town American spirit, capturing the feel of the military, and getting into the heart of his teenage protagonist.” Publishers Weekly, starred review


literary, nuanced, respectful treatment of military themes, sports dynamics, and small-town life.” –Booklist


“Fans of Reedy’s recent blood and thunder thriller Divided We Fall may be pleasantly surprised to see what he can do with a quieter, more thoughtful take on a boy stepping into a man’s shoes.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books


“A moving study of war’s long-reaching effects on families…. Readers will anticipate each letter right along with Mike, and they may receive some good guidance about life along with him.” —Kirkus Reviews




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