No Man's Land

S.T. Underdahl. Flux, $9.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-7387-3305-0
Underdahl's subtle, voice-driven novel explores the effects of PTSD on the relatives of a soldier afflicted by it. Sixteen-year-old Dov Howard accepts his role as an outcast emo kid who talks to his pet gecko; the younger brother of war hero Brian, Dov is generally unnoticed by anyone outside his small circle of friends. His circumstances change when Brian returns home from Afghanistan and starts drinking a lot and acting strangely. At the same time, an attractive new girl named Scarlett transfers to Dov's school, and Dov begins finding dark, confessional poems slipped into his books. To the confusion of the family, Brian continues to spiral out of control, with much of his disintegration taking place off-camera. Underdahl (Remember This) allows Dov's self-deprecating humor and personal troubles to drive the story, rather than having his life revolve too simplistically around his older brother. Despite predictable romantic elements, the story smartly confronts both PTSD and the generational impact of war without making them the sole focus. Ages 12–up. Agent: Quinlan Lee, Adams Literary. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 12/24/2012
Release date: 11/01/2012
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