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March 2023

Brother lives on his family ranch in Oregon with his four brothers, father and grandparents.  Even though Brother works hard on the ranch, he fears that he doesn’t have the heart of a rancher.  But when his father’s National Guard unit is called up to duty in Iraq, and his brothers are off at school, the responsibility for running the ranch falls to Brother.

This was a wonderful book, perfect for 4th-6th graders.  It’s an excellent example of how Christian values can be portrayed in literature without being preachy, overbearing or fake.  I would love to see the Christian community embrace Parry’s contribution to quality, significant juvenile fiction.

Doug and his brother Gordon just don’t get along. But when an emergency arises on a family camping trip, Doug is forced to face his biggest fear to save Gordon’s life.

The Fear PlaceA good suspenseful juvenile fiction book that stresses the importance of family and facing your fears.

Amaryllis Jimmy and his brother Frank have always stood together against their alcoholic father. When Frank leaves home to join the army, and is sent to Vietnam, his letters are the only thing that keep Jimmy going.

This book was very depressing. The main characters weren’t terribly likeable, and even though you want to find out if Frank will come home safely, in the end, it doesn’t seem to matter.

Dara lives in Cambodia in early 1980. She has to flee her home because of war. Her friendship with a girl named Jantu helps her develop courage to finally bring her family back home.

This book reminds me of a movie I saw when I was little about a Cambodian family who moved to the U.S. I just can’t remember the name! The book discusses the effects of war on the innocent — is it easier or does it take more courage to fight or to make peace?

The first book in this trilogy, Stepping on the Cracks, is narrated by Margaret. Margaret and her best friend Elizabeth both have brothers fighting in World War II. The girls are not only worried about their brothers, but also about the school bully, Gordon Smith. Gordy makes the girls’ lives miserable. When the girls find out a secret about Gordy and his family, they try to use it to their advantage at first, but are quickly drawn into trying to help Gordy.

Following My Own Footsteps takes up where the first book left off–this time with Gordy as narrator. Gordy, his mom and siblings have moved to live with his grandmother. Under her care, Gordy begins to work harder in school, and even makes a friend. Then Gordy’s dad returns, and Gordy must decide what to do.

In As Ever, Gordy, Gordy returns to his hometown to live with his big brother and family. Everyone remembers Gordy as both a failure and the class bully, and that’s how they continue to treat him. Gordy soon falls back into his old ways and although his feelings for his old enemy Elizabeth have changed, he doesn’t know how to change his behavior.

The best part of this trilogy was the way the narrator switched from Margaret to Gordy. In the first book, you sympathize with the girls’ point of view, and even though you feel bad for Gordy, you don’t really like him much. He’s just too mean, and he reminds you of every bully you’ve ever known. But once Gordy begins to tell his story, you immediately understand why he acts the way he does. The change in Gordy’s character is all the more understandable and real, because it’s seen from two points of view.