by Edward Bloor

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Review

Martin is a 7th grade student attending a private, Catholic school and he's just been struck across the face by the school's bully for sticking up for his friend.  It's the last day before summer break, but the thought of ever returning is less desirable than a root canal.  Martin's grandfather on his mother's side is a World War II hero, some kind of statesman or something. His grandfather on his dad's side fought in the war as well, but since his father is an alcoholic that left his family, no one talks about that branch of the tree anymore.  Martin is lost in the in between with no roads out.

Martin has taken over the basement bedroom and throughout his summer vacation, rarely emerges from the bowels of the house, except to get groceries when his mother insists.  His mom worries, his sister is concerned, and even one of his friends he communicates with via internet thinks he's depressed.  It's not until his grandmother, whom he shares an unusual connection with, passes away leaving him an antique radio that he finds a different way to travel and, quite possibly, a way out of going back to school and off the no way street he's on.  A young boy named Jimmy Harker comes to call on Martin.  The only thing is, Jimmy lived in England during WWII.  He asks one question, "Will you help?" From here, things get complicated.  

This is a wonderfully written and powerfully compelling story.  It could make you ask the question, "Are the heroes we know, only heroes because they had better PR managers?"  This story is about being lost, needing help, giving help, being honest, having integrity and moving on.  

It wouldn't be a bad thing if we all approached life with the end question of What did I do to help? in mind.

 

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