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Great Falls

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  159 ratings  ·  48 reviews
One brother home from war. The other desperate to save him. A gripping journey together to the river's end.

Shane has always worshiped his big brother, Jeremy. But three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken their toll, and the easy-go-lucky brother Shane knew has been replaced by a surly drunk who carries his loaded 9mm with him everywhere and lives in the basement bec
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 26th 2016 by Candlewick Press
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Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  159 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Rachel Rooney
Sep 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, ya, 2017
A 2018-2019 Missouri Gateway Readers Award preliminary nominee (grades 9-12).

Shane's brother Jeremy is back from another tour in the Middle East, but he's not the person Shane knew. He lives at home instead of with his wife and kids and drinks a lot. After a embarrassing incident at a football game, Jeremy offers to take Shane to the family cabin. What Shane thinks is a short camping trip turns into something more.

This was a gripping portrayal of PTSD. 3.5 stars.
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Wendy by: Goodreads Giveaways
Shelves: post-war
" Great Falls" which I won through Goodreads Giveaways is a gripping and heart-breaking story of two brothers; one a Marine returning from three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, the other a high school football athlete who take a days-long canoe trip canoe trip down the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers to escape their problems. Shane Dupree humiliated on the football field after suffering a concussion, and his brother broken by the ghosts of war, a victim of Post Traumatic Syndrome Disease (PTSD) bat ...more
Kaitlyn Abshire
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

After humiliating himself in front of his entire school, Shane decides to embark on a camping trip with his older brother Jeremy. Before Shane realizes, they are in possession of a canoe and are well on their way down the Shenandoah River and towards the Potomac River. Jeremy, a veteran, is running away from his job, his family, and all the other responsibilities he has back home. While this trip was
Lynn  Davidson
Jul 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This seemed a story quite different from what I usually read, and the topic was of interest to me. It says on the cover “One brother home from war. The other desperate to save him. A river that will change them forever. ” – and it had my attention immediately. This book was not a disappointment.

Shane is his older brother’s biggest fan, but Jeremy has done three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and is not the same as he used to be. He’s troubled, very troubled, and can’t even function around his wif
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jeremy has returned after doing three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan but he is not the same Jeremy that left. The town thinks of him as a hero but Jeremy doesn’t feel like a hero, he is haunted by the war and when he thinks about his fellow serviceman Atwell, Jeremy is overcome with emotion. Did he really do everything he could have done? There is a hardness to Jeremy, a wall that he brings with him and he not willing to remove this wall or share why this wall came home with him. Camped o ...more
Nina O'Daniels
In the year 2017, we will have been engaged in a war that has lasted almost sixteen years. That’s almost half of my adult life. Technically, it ended in 2014 but let’s not pretend otherwise. I crumble every time a video montage of families welcoming home their soldiers shows up on my feed. I seriously can’t handle it. Just this week, the reminder of PTSD and mental health in the military is present as I witness an active shooter who is formal military. Suicide rates for soldiers are rampant. I c ...more
Colton Puls

Colton Puls


Great Falls. Steve Watkins.

Personal Response
I think this book shares a great message while keeping me entertained which may I add is hard to do. It shares the struggles a boy and his brother and that everyone has them just in different degrees and circumstances. This is an overall good book with action, emotion, problem solving, and character. I like this book because I can relate to the concussions which suck and always worrying about what people will think or do based of
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Even though this book is considered YA, I think it did a good job of discussing the subject of PTSD as it relates to those in the military, or those that served in the military, as well as the impact it may have on the family. Throw in the world of high school, and the sense of us trying to have found our places at that time in our lives, and I feel you have a solid read with Jeremy (the older brother) who is returning from another tour of duty, and Shane as the younger brother navigating high s ...more
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: brothers
There is a bit of false advertising associated with this book as they don't even get on the river until more than 100 pages in and the falls are not mentioned until even later. Other than that, I think this book is a great read. The relationship between the brothers is believable and moving. Watkins very effectively communicates the constant tension Shane is under being alone with his brother whom he loves and fears and is frustrated and annoyed by. There was one point where I thought Watkins ha ...more
Stacey Conrad
Shane idolizes his older brother Jeremy. Since Jeremy has returned from Afghanistan, he is distant. He moved into their parents basement rather than back home with his wife and daughters. Jeremy self medicates to forget the horrors of war. After a concussion on the football field and a spectacularly bad play, Shane and Jeremy escape to the river and canoe from Virginia to West Virginia. As Jeremy deteriorates, Shane worries for himself and his brother, wondering if or when they will get back hom ...more
Sep 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
The title Great Falls literally refers to the series of waterfalls and rapids along the Potomac River, just upstream of Washington D.C., yet a raging river full of challenges is also a metaphor for the lives of brothers Shane and Jeremy Dupree.

Jeremy’s a Marine who has recently returned from his third tour in the Middle East where his bravery earned him a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. Jeremy’s married with two young kids but has been sleeping in his parent’s basement and drinking 12-packs t
GREAT FALLS by Steve Watkins is a young adult novel exploring the relationship between a teen and his older brother who suffers from PTSD.

When high school football star Shane agrees to go on a camping trip with his older brother Jeremy, he soon realizes he’s in over his head. Military hero Jeremy is back from deployments in Iraq and suffering from the effects of this war experiences. A canoe, alcohol, and a rifle combine for a terrifying experience that escalates around every corner as Jeremy’s
Kelly Hager
This is a novel about two brothers, one with PTSD after returning from the war. That's basically all you need to know.

Since he returned, Jeremy's been different. It's understandable but Shane wants his brother back. They end up on a camping/canoeing trip together, but it doesn't seem to be helping. If anything, Jeremy's getting worse (not sleeping or eating).

This book is painful to read. It goes quickly, but it hurts. And it should. I'm not sure you can have an honest book about this topic if
Jessica  Van Tassell
Nov 19, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a hard book to review bc I have such torn feelings. On one hand I think it was written well and is on a subject I am interested (post war soldiers). It was a decent story, despite the abundance of f-words.

Maybe I am just a prude but how could I recommend this book to an elementary or middle schooler when it has such language? I even at one point looked back at the spine to make sure this was labeled as YF. Which I don't necessarily mind language but I felt this was more appropriate for
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: survival
This book had a lot of potential. Shane's brother Jeremy comes back from another tour in the Middle East and he's suffering badly from PTSD. Shane is a high school senior, and we're told he worships and adores his older brother.

Here's where the biggest problem lies. We're *told* this in the summary, but nowhere in the book did I get that impression. Shane merely observes his brother, but we are never shown what he's feeling. Is he desperate to help his brother and anguished to see him in this wa
Michael Russell
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great Falls by Steve Watkins Shane is a high school football player who worships his older brother, Jeremy. Even though Jeremy seems to have a great life: he’s married to a wonderful young woman, they have two great young kids, and Jeremy has a secure job as a colonel in the Marine corps, Shane is worried. Jeremy hasn’t been the same since returning from three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. When Shane embarrasses himself on the football field after a devastating collision, Jeremy offers to take ...more
A quick read that features sports, adventure, and war. Librarians are gonna eat this one up for their reluctant reading guys. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. Shane has always worshiped his big brother, Jeremy. Ever since Jeremy has returned from Afghanistan, though, he’s been different. Unable to handle life with his wife and two small daughters, he moved back in with Shane, Mom, and Stepdad (the Colonel). One night, after Shane makes a HUGE mistake on the football field, Jeremy ...more
Bryce Ruest
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great Falls tells a story about Shane and his brother Jeremy. Jeremy served in Afghanistan and hasn't been the same since. Jeremy always carries around his gun and lives in his parents basement even though he has a wife. Shane is Jeremy's younger brother, and he knows his brother has not been the same since he's come home. Shane knows that Jeremy is unstable and he wants Jeremy to get help. One day, Jeremy brings Shane up to his cabin and takes him on a canoe trip down the Shenandoah and Potomac ...more
I rate this book A 5 out of 5. This book is an amazing book if you like books that are action packed, if you do than Great Falls is the book for you. This book is about a kid named Shane Dupree, who has an older brother named Jeremy. Jeremy was in the military and was also deployed 4 times in Iraq. He received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service. However, there is one thing about Jeremy; he has PTSD from his war time, and wherever he goes, he takes and cleans his 9mm and his M16 ass ...more
Robert Pacheco
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
I give this book 4 stars because it was a overall good book. This book is about a boy named Shane and how is brother Jeremy comes back from the being a marine. His brother struggles a lot with his girlfriend and they both Shane and Jeremy go on a long trip. I liked the main characters brother Jeremy. Although he struggles he makes to book entertaining. Spoiler- I only gave this book 4 stars because it was sad seeing Jeremy having to go away.
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fast paced and well written. Examines the relationship between a teen and his older brother home from Afghanistan and suffering from PTSD. Difficult to read at times but still well worth sticking with it.
Rachael Quinn
May 24, 2016 rated it liked it
I chose this book for my "books for boys" selection. This was a category that I definitely wanted on the reader's advisory program because I feel like I read a lot of books that teenage guys wouldn't be interested in. I wanted to read something exciting and action-packed that I thought would be more interesting to a guy than what I usually read, even though I think that labeling books "boy" or "girl" books is stupid.

Shane's older brother, Jeremy, has done three tours as a Marine. On his last one
John Clark
May 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shane knows he's living atop a powder keg, both literally and figuratively. His step dad acts like he's running a marine corps division, even though he never really saw combat and is retired. His mother is intimidated by her husband, but does try to keep peace after he explodes. The real ticking bomb, however, lives in the basement. That's where Shane's older brother, Jeremy hides from the world and his demons.
Jeremy served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and now can't deal with peacetime b
Kizzi Roberts
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shane's big brother Jeremy has finally returned home after three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shane thought having his brother back home would fix everything, but his once happy-go-lucky brother has been replaced by an angry, bitter person who can't get through the day without a drink. With his brother living in the basement, unable to face life with his wife and two kids, Shane struggles with high school, caring for his brother's family, and stress at home. Then, after Shane embarrasses himse ...more
Dequan Shardaskin
Apr 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
This book smells nasty. I picked it up from the library and the cover looked nice, but the inside had a packet of BBQ sauce squashed inside. I am very disappointed that the author would prank me this hard. I have acquired crippling depression from it. Look out for this book, it might give you PTSD. Halfway through chapter 3 I was having flashbacks of Vietnam. Look out guys. 10/10 would :( again.
April 25, 2017

I recently had to pick up this book again for a college reference, and I must say I am n
Sandy Eichelberger
Shane has looked up to his older brother since he was little. The problem now lies in the fact that Jeremy is not the same person he was before he spent 3 tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s back in the States now but can’t even return to his wife and children, because he’s haunted by his life as a soldier in wartime. Now he spends his time disassembling and re-assembling his weapons, over and over. At all times he has his gun and his automatic rifle by his side, waiting and watching for ...more
Liz Friend
May 03, 2016 rated it liked it
The story: A boy and his brother go on a camping trip--but not just any trip, and not just any brother. Jeremy has done three tours in Afghanistan, and it's definitely done something to him. When he grabs Shane for an unexpected canoe adventure, it sounds harmless enough - but Jeremy keeps cleaning that assault rifle, keeps avoiding the doctor for a wound gone septic, keeps pretending that everything is fine at home..and by the time Shane wises up enough to make a stand, it's way too late for a ...more
E. Ardell
Aug 21, 2016 rated it liked it
I liked this book. I enjoyed the journey and the unpredictable nature of the adventure. The familial relationships are difficult and complex. The main character, Shane, seems to be as much on the verge of a breakdown as his veteran brother, Jeremy, which inspires the "trip". It felt a little Huckleberry Finn-ish, as each time the canoe came ashore there was a new person with a new story that the main character meets.

I felt horrible for both Shane and Jeremy, for what they lost, for what they ex
Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This powerful read is exactly what I look for in a book for my classroom library. It is engaging as it is meaningful. I only meant to peruse the first chapter, but the next thing I knew, it was reading the acknowledgements. Shane is an easy narrator to connect with, and the feeling of powerlessness he exudes is palpable and understandable. So is the tension. Shane is desperate to help his brother but the delicate shift and balance is continual, and that makes even the most mundane interactions g ...more
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Steve Watkins is the author of Down Sand Mountain, a young adult novel published in October 2008 by Candlewick Press. Another young adult novel, Goat Girl, is scheduled for publication by Candlewick Press in spring 2011.

Steve is also author of a short story collection, My Chaos Theory (2006, Southern Methodist University Press), which was a finalist for the Paterson Fiction Prize, and an Honorable

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“back, and then sit” 0 likes
“He tries to hand the water back, but I refuse. Jeremy's will is always stronger than anybody else's, though, and when he says he'll only drink more if I do first, I cave and drink” 0 likes
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