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.)
"Many young readers will identify with the day-to-day trepidation felt by Jess, Meriwether, and the other families living on the base."
—VOYA, 3Q 4P M J
"Full of detail about Army life, Patterson's elegant prose brings readers deep inside Jess's conflicted point of view and the many stresses she is under, as she reevaluates her role as a member of a military family."
"Patterson poignantly depicts war's effect on those at home as Jess and her friends absorb and react to the events. This solid novel joins the growing number of books illustrating the war's effect on Afghan people."
"Patterson has an amazing ability to convey the tension and fear that families and friends of deployed soldiers bear every day and the heart-stopping terror when news programs show violence against troops that may result in one of their loved ones being wounded or dead."
—School Library Journal
"Patterson writes with compassion for both sides of this thorny issue, and her steady focus on the emotional trauma of the stateside teens keeps the story from devlolving into a coolly cerebral exercise in anti-terrorism strategy."
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.
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.
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.