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Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am

Review

Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am

BEFORE

Ben Bright had it all. He was finishing up his senior year of high school with the lead in the school musical, a beautiful girlfriend by his side, and endless possibilities for the future. So it came as a total shock to everyone when Ben declared that he was enlisting and going to boot camp. Ben assured his family, friends and even himself that going to boot camp didn’t mean going to war. He explained to both his parents, his younger brother Chris, and his best friend Niko that he was doing the right thing by serving his country. He proposed to his girlfriend, Ariela, as a declaration of his love and the promise to return. Boot camp came and went without much incident, but then the letter came --- Ben was going to war.

"This book brings to life what many families go through and paints a realistic picture of the struggle and difficulty of dealing with this serious subject."

DURING

There isn’t much time to think when you’re out patrolling the streets in Iraq. Sometimes all you can do is act. It wasn’t a huge secret that the locals hated it when soldiers came marching through the villages acting like they cared. Even though Ben and his unit kept their eyes peeled for anything suspicious, it’s not easy to always anticipate five steps ahead. So it only took a second for a bomb hidden in a stuffed toy to blow a Humvee sky high and change Ben’s life forever.

AFTER

There’s no way to plan for tragedy. The people in Ben’s life couldn’t prepare for the change in him as a result of his traumatic brain injury. Ben would have to relearn how to speak, walk, and basically function as a human being again. Worst of all, he can’t remember who he is or who the people are who say they are his family and friends. The road to recovery is a slow one, as he is forced to spend nearly a year in the hospital trying to rehabilitate and get some grasp on what it means to live. If his journey wasn’t hard enough already, then there is no accounting for what the people around him are going through.

Ben’s parents quickly fall into despair and aren’t sure what to do. Bickering and disagreements lead to separation as they try and sort out how to handle the entire situation. Niko is a constant presence in the Bright household as he finishes up high school and struggles with how to be there for his best friend. The ring on Ariela’s finger is a constant reminder of what she pledged to Ben before everything changed. Being so far away at college, though, has thrown everything into disarray, and hope is hard to find amidst such tragic circumstances.

SOMEBODY, PLEASE TELL ME WHO I AM doesn’t try to sugarcoat anything. The perils of war are real, and the depressing war stories often get tucked away where no one hears about them. This book brings to life what many families go through and paints a realistic picture of the struggle and difficulty of dealing with this serious subject. Although it’s a short read, the focus on the most important elements gives the reader a clear idea of exactly what happens to families and friends after such a harrowing tragedy of war. This is an important story to read and talk about as it affects so many Americans in today’s world.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on April 27, 2012

Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am
by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis

  • Publication Date: February 7, 2012
  • Genres: Young Adult 12+
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 1416938958
  • ISBN-13: 9781416938958