This story is powerful, and well-targeted for middle school readers. It provides a clear view of the Vietnam War through the eyes of a 12-year-old girl. Jamie Dexter’s family is based at Fort Hood, Texas. She’s anxious for any sign of action, even if only through the letters and photos of her enlisted brother, TJ. She makes friends with a couple of army grunts who’ve returned from tours of duty, and soon realizes that the war isn’t all excitement and glory.
Jamie’s greatest hero is her father, a Colonel who embodies Army Pride and protocol. Her worship takes a hit when she discovers that the Colonel has his own questions about the war, and the role TJ should play.
There are several strong scenes: my favorite is when TJ visits home after basic training, just before he’s shipped out. The Vietnam War is a defining moment in US history, and the Dexters have a lot to say about what it means to serve your country, and your family.