Personal Effects
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Personal Effects

by
4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  858 ratings  ·  197 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 11th 2012 by Candlewick Press
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Joy (joyous reads)
The Gist: Matt is a mess; between dealing with the grief of losing his brother, TJ to the on-going difficulty of living with his father, some days, Matt can no longer tell which way is up. Added to that emotional upheaval and turmoil is a burgeoning relationship with his best friend that Matt could no longer ignore. Seven months after burying what was left of his brother, he's overwhelmed by anger and loneliness seemingly beyond relief.

When his brother's footlockers showed up, it felt like he w...more
Arlene
Matt Foster has been struggling to recover from the death of his older brother who was killed in the Iraq war. There’s so much surrounding this tragedy that he can’t seem to comprehend, and living with a father that’s extremely distant and fierce, Matt struggles to make sense of it all. Then one day when a Casualty Assistance Officer delivers his brother’s personal effects, Matt discovers through his brother’s pictures and belongings that there was a part of his brother’s life he never really kn...more
Cayce
It was never a question of whether or not I would read Personal Effects, just a question of when. Everything from the blurb to the cover was calling my name. Not to mention the fact that Goodreads has it shelved under ya as well as glbt. I just had to be in the right mood to be able to read a story that deals with grief. It was never a question of whether or not I would like Personal Effects, but rather how much it would break my heart. I desperately wanted to read it, but at the same time was t...more
MLE
May 06, 2013 MLE rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: yad
A really hard, powerful book about love, loss, and family. Matt is a very angry teenage boy, but considering his father and the home he lives in, and losing his brother his rage is understandable. His father is not a nice person, and his inability, and unwillingness to cope with the loss of son, and his verbal and physical abuse help to make Matt the mess he is. His reaction to his brother's secret isn't positive, and it isn't necessarily fair, but considering where he comes from, and what he ha...more
Trish Doller
Still thinking of exactly what I want to say, but moving is probably where I'll start. Very moving. And real.
Kelly
Now that Matt's brother TJ has died in combat and he's had time to move past the initial shock, he wants to know more about who his brother really was. When the footlockers of TJ's personal effects show up at their home, he takes a chance and goes through them when his father is out. What he finds leads him down a road to learning much more than he expected about the person his brother was.

Kokie's debut is well-written but I couldn't emotionally connect with this story in quite the way I could...more
Tina
Perfect. This book is excellent. The growth of the MC from beginning to end is spot-on for a 17 year old kid. It is not a romance. It isn't a m/m book, which is my genre of choice. I am so glad I saw the ratings and read the blurb, though. That's what made me read it. It is technically a YA book, but so much more. As a parent who has lost a child and has a surviving child, it was so easy for me to put myself in "dad"'s place. It was also enlightening to see the effects of the death of a sibling...more
G.
Great voice and what a fine debut novel. Kokie had me fooled: she captures the male psyche and dives in deeper than most male authors. This one's a keeper.
Kellee
Reviewed at: http://www.teachmentortexts.com/2012/...

I just love that feeling of reading a really superb book. One that has it all- story, characterization, theme, grippingness, relevance, etc. etc. etc. It is very similar to eating a perfect meal, but this give you satisfaction in your body, heart and soul. To someone who has never experienced this feeling unless they have read some of those great books out there. I'll never forget the first time I got this feeling- The Giver. 7th grade. I've b...more
Richie Partington
Richie’s Picks: PERSONAL EFFECTS by E.M. Kokie, Candlewick, September 2012, 352p., ISBN: 978-0-7636-6203-5

“In response, McCain said, ‘That old, eh, that old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran’ -- which elicited laughter from the crowd. McCain then chuckled before singing -- to the tune of the chorus of the Beach Boys’ classic ‘Barbara Ann’ -- ‘Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, anyway, ah…’
“The audience responded with more laughter.”
-- from the NPR article by Don Gonyea, April 20, 2007 “Jesting, McCain Sings: ‘Bom...more
Alice
This book will break your heart. More than once. It will make you angry. It will make you smile. It will make your throat close up in the way throats do when you’re about to cry but have to hold it in, because you need to finish this chapter you just can’t wait so Do Not Cry.

Personal Effects, E.M. Kokie’s debut YA is about Matt Foster: seventeen and angry. And not dealing well with the recent death of his older brother, T.J., in Iraq. “Not dealing well” doesn’t cover it. His father’s not dealing...more
Ricki
This book was recommended to me, and for the first hundred or so pages, I didn't get why it was so extraordinary. It was an enjoyable story, but I wasn't quite pulled in. And then I got it. The book wasn't quite as predictable as I thought, and I began to enjoy it more and more. The plot was well-crafted with a few unexpected twists. Matt's father is abusive, and his brother, TJ, is a soldier in the war with Iraq. When his brother dies, Matt struggles to deal with the loss.

By the end of the book...more
MyRanda*
I thought EM Kokie did a good job telling the story of a teenager who loses an older sibling and how grief affects different family members differently.

As a person who lost an older sibling this book broke my heart. Not because of the material, but how I kept thinking "this is how it feels". When a child or a young person dies, people focus on the parents or the family as a whole, not too many people seem to think about the siblings. Esecially younger ones; the person who has died never knew lif...more
Becca
Feb 29, 2012 Becca marked it as to-read
LOVE this cover.
Cindy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ms. Yingling
Matt has enough to deal with. His father is very controlling and overbearing, more so since the death of Matt's mother. Matt must do well in school, work a job, control his anger, and most of all, join the military. Since Matt's brother, T.J., has recently died while serving in the military, it's not something Matt is really interested in. He's having a lot of anger management issues, especially when kids in school spout pacificistic rhetoric. His father barely mentions T.J., has taken down pict...more
Nina O'Daniels
Matt's older brother, T.J., didn't make it home from the Iraq War. He and his father have no relationship or communication, unless it's his dad yelling at him, hitting him, or reminding him how long he has until Matt enlists in the army. Matt is angry at his brother and father, gets into fights at school, has barely passing grades, and is having impure thoughts about his best friend, Shauna. All he wants is some closure. The opportunity presents itself when his brother's personal effects arrive...more
Bookish♥Sarah

♥ Find my reviews on Blogger ~ Reviews by Bookish Sarah

- - -

Matt's life is a mess. His father is abusive and overly strict about everything. He is also pushing him to join the military as soon as he's able. Matt lives in fear of his father practically every moment of every day. He's also dealing with the fact that he has more-than-friendly feelings for his best friend, Shauna - feelings he's sure she would spurn. The worst issue of all is the loss of his brother, TJ. TJ was a soldier and died in...more
Barbara
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Isamlq
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 rec...more
Chris
This is a complex, subtle, and powerful book about a teen on the verge of adulthood who learns that becoming a man means something entirely different than he'd ever been told or expected. Engaging, honest, challenging, and satisfying.

Publisher blurbs usually don't do it for me, but I'm having trouble coming up with anything that describes it better than this (copied from above if you're on the main Goodreads page for the book; included for those of you who aren't):

"Ever since his brother, T.J.,...more
Courtney Lavallee


My teacher recommended this book to me, so of course I took it. The title didn't quite draw me in, but reading the front cover did. Matt struggles with his father, the lose of his brother, his strained friendship with Shauna, and coping with everything while trying to prove to everyone, and himself, he's as strong as his brother was. I was in tears at the end of the book; I felt for the characters as if I were friends with them. This book doesn't just teach you how strong a teenager can be, it...more
Sherrie
Loved. This. Book. Personal Effects is the story of Matt Foster who is struggling to come to terms with his older brother's death in Iraq several months prior. His grieving process is made even more difficult because of his turbulent home life. His father a retired Army officer offers no kind words or safety net to help his remaining son to come to terms with T.J's death. When T.J.'s personal effects are delivered home Matt looks through his brother's things and discovers he had a life that he k...more
Jessica
So, I listened to this book, and I think my narration crush on Nick Podehl probably gained it an extra star, but this story was also great. It felt so raw and so real - my heart just kept breaking and healing again the whole time.

(especially toward the end of the book, I was reminded of the part of Jesmyn Ward's "Men We Reaped" where she writes something along the lines of how, when a sibling dies, they take our stories with them. If I was still in college I was write a paper, or at least a 5 p...more
Olivia
Very few books have ever made me bawl my eyes out but this is one of them. I'm not even really sure why. I guess it was just the fact that Matt loved his brother so much and was having such a hard time getting past his death and then... finding out all these secrets. E.M. Kokie handled the events in this book very well, it was extremely real and emotional.

I would love for there to be a sequel. I would love to know what happened to Matt and how/if he gets to know his new family.
Moniq28
This book was nothing like I expected. It was way better. Really, so so good. No teenage stupid drama rama, but story about coming of age, lesson in forgiveness, understanding and acceptance, what does it mean to love and the value of family. Solid 4,5 stars.
Polish review - http://cowksiazcepiszczy.blox.pl/2013...
Yuki
I wanted to read this book for so long, I had some.. high expectations. But PE didn't fail.
It's heart-wrenching story, and yet there's hope. I could feel the anger and all that teenage angst of the hero. And the narration didn't repulse me, even if PE is told in first person.
4 solid stars.
Tahleen
I enjoyed listening to this audiobook, but I'm not sure I would have liked it as much in print. It is great to get a sibling's perspective of dealing with the death of a soldier, and Kokie seems to nail the male perspective as well (not being a boy, I can't say for sure, but it feels authentic). The added element of the mystery of TJ's secret life adds a richness to the story that can be appreciated by a wider audience than those who would only gravitate toward this book because of the war/grief...more
Saleena Davidson
Personal Effects is a really hard read, but completely worth it. Matt's brother died in action in Iraq and his father's decision of how to deal with it is to ignore it and work on "toughing" Matt up so he too can join the military. When Matt finds some personal letters in his brother's personal effects, he decides to take a car and travel across country to meet this girl his brother was involved with but had never mentioned.......and when he arrives, he finds that there are many aspects of his l...more
Edward Sullivan
Taut writing for a tense, compelling story. Raw, real, and emotionally charged. An impressive debut.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
2013 Hub Reading ...: Personal Effects 1 8 May 04, 2013 08:15AM  
  • October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard
  • Kiss the Morning Star
  • A Certain October
  • Sons of the 613
  • This Is Not a Drill
  • The Downside of Being Charlie
  • Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am
  • Sparks: The Epic, Completely True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie
  • Butter
  • Chained
  • Way to Go
  • I'm With Stupid (Stupid Fast #3)
  • Starting From Here
  • Radiant Days
  • The Opposite of Hallelujah
  • Fall to Pieces
  • For What It's Worth
  • After Eli
4373408
Often opinionated. Sometimes sarcastic. My debut YA novel PERSONAL EFFECTS was published by Candlewick in 2012.
More about E.M. Kokie...
Speculative Fiction 2013: The Year's Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary

Share This Book