Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie
Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie
After his older brother dies in Iraq, Matt makes a discovery that rocks his beliefs about strength, bravery, and honor in this page-turning debut.
Ever since his brother, T.J., was killed in Iraq, Matt feels like he’s been sleepwalking through life — failing classes, getting into fights, and avoiding his dad’s lectures about following in his brother’s footsteps. T.J.’s gone, but Matt can’t shake the feeling that if only he could get his hands on his brother’s stuff from Iraq, he’d be able to make sense of his death. But as Matt searches for answers about T.J.’s death, he faces a shocking revelation about T.J.’s life that suggests he may not have known T.J. as well as he thought. What he learns challenges him to stand up to his father, honor his brother’s memory, and take charge of his own life. With compassion, humor, and a compelling narrative voice, E. M. Kokie explores grief, social mores, and self-discovery in a provocative first novel.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
There’s an honesty to Matt’s voice with him owning up to his attraction to Shauna, him frankly talking about his reactions to her, and later on him being so matter of fact -even resigned- to how things were with his father. I liked the guy even when he pulled some dick moves because I also felt sorry for him, with a dad like he was and with his big brother gone, there really was no other reaction I could have mustered up.
Matt’s story mixes a lot of what he recalls of his brother and what he recalls in general of his family that’s in sharp contrast to where things stand with his brother gone. So that I’m waiting, hoping really for something big to come the kid’s way. Except when things do finally start happening, with him thinking he’d finally pieced things together, he decides that his going all out to do something for his big brother. Still there was also that feeling on my part: that’s someone somewhere just missed something important, so that I was dreading what’s he’s going to encounter, but couldn’t help watching all the same.
It was not a complete ‘train wreck can’t tear my eyes from it situation’ because some of it was good… like Shauna and his conflicted feelings for her, or him and Mr. Anders or even just memories of TJ, but overall you just want the kid to get out from where he was… and do something, but as he’s just about to do something… well, like I said, someone missed something vital somewhere. And when smacked with the truth, Matt’s reaction made him shine brighter…well eventually at least with doing what he did.
Unlike IF I LIE, things are not long and overdrawn where your emotions get pulled thin by how much the key character suffers and I still rooted for Matt anyway. Because while he doesn’t suffer as much as the girl in IF I LIE, he does suffer a different sort of thing. There were other parallels too with a father who is overbearing and a mother who’s out of the picture, but this story is of Matt finally seeing things for what they are and standing up.
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