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Heart of a Shepherdby Rosanne Parry
Synopses & Reviews
Ninth-grader Jess Westmark had the best of intentions when she started Operation Oleander to raise money for a girls orphanage in Kabul. She named her charity for the oleander that grows both in her Florida hometown and in Afghanistan, where her father is deployed. But on one of her father's trips to deliver supplies to the orphans, a car bomb explodes nearby and her father is gravely injured. Worse, her best friends mother and some of the children are killed, and people are blaming Operation Oleander for turning the orphanage into a military target for the Taliban. Is this all Jesss fault?
"In Parry's debut novel, 11-year-old Brother (his given name is Ignatius: 'Guess they ran out of all the good saints by the time they got to me') helps manage his family's Oregon ranch. With his father in Iraq, his four older brothers at school or in the military, and his mother painting abroad, caring for family's livestock falls to Brother, his grandparents and some hired help. Though he is eager to prove to his siblings, grandparents and most importantly, his father, that he can handle it, Brother nonetheless struggles with the rigors of the job, his father's and brothers' absence and the stress of war ('I could never do it.... I could never take those salutes and the 'yes, sirs' and then take moms and dads into danger'). Slowly, Brother fills the shoes of his elders and realizes his own calling when he is literally tested by fire. Brother's spiritual growth and gentle but strong nature, in tandem with details of ranch life and the backdrop of war, add up to a powerful, unique coming-of-age story. Ages 8-12." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
When his father is deployed to Iraq, 11-year-old Brother holds tight to his parting words: "A man's life is not so much about courage. You just have to keep going." So Brother does his best to "keep going" during Dad's 14-month absence. He helps his grandparents on the family ranch, raises orphaned lambs and delivers a calf. When a prairie fire threatens their home, the boy not only braves the blaze... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) to rescue stranded sheep but bears loss and starts to rebuild. Does Brother sound too good to be true? His spunk, occasional self-doubts and cowpoke skills make him a believable, engaging character, as do his clear-eyed observations on schoolmates, church and his chess-playing Grandpa. Brother also explores spiritual issues with a depth and honesty seldom seen in contemporary children's literature. Rosanne Parry's first novel is something to celebrate: a big-themed book with a big-hearted boy at the center. Mary Quattlebaum is a children's author who contributes frequently to The Washington Post Book World. Reviewed by Mary Quattlebaum, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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A stunning contemporary YA drama about a soldiers daughter whose efforts to help Afghan orphans creates a political firestorm over the ethics of war and charity.
When Brother's dad is shipped off to Iraq, along with the rest of his reserve unit, Brother must help his grandparents keep the ranch going. Hes determined to maintain it just as his father left it, in the hope that doing so will ensure his fathers safe return. The hardships Brother faces will not only change the ranch, but also reveal his true calling.
About the Author
The stark beauty of eastern Oregon and the shared purpose of the ranching community made a lasting impression on Rosanne Parry. She found a similar rapport among the military families she knew when her husband was deployed to Iraq. She now lives in an old farmhouse in Portland, Oregon, with bunnies and chickens and her husband and four kids.
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