Publisher's Note:  

From the author of WORDS IN THE DUST and DIVIDED WE FALL: A heartwarming book about a son reconnecting with the father he lost in Afghanistan.

Mike was seven when his father was killed in mysterious circumstances in Afghanistan. Eight years later, the family still hasn't recovered: Mike's mom is overworked and overprotective; his younger sister Mary feels no connection to the father she barely remembers; and in his quest to be "the man of the family," Mike knows he's missing out on everyday high school life.

Then, out of the blue, Mike receives a letter from his father -- the first of a series Dad wrote in Afghanistan, just in case he didn't come home, meant to share some wisdom with his son on the eve of Mike's 16th birthday. As the letters come in, Mike revels in spending time with his dad again, and takes his encouragement to try new things -- to go out for the football team, and ask out the beautiful Isma. But who's been keeping the letters all these years? And how did Dad actually die? As the answers to these mysteries are revealed, Mike and his family find a way to heal and move forward at last.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scholastic

If You're Reading This

by Trent Reedy

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Overall Review:  

First, it probably goes without saying, based on the cover, that football fans will enjoy this book. However, even if you're not into football (which I'm not) there's still plenty to enjoy. If You're Reading This is a heartwarming story of forgiveness and growing up, but it is also about having fun and making lasting friendships and memories. I love how the main character, Mike, was given an amazing gift of getting to know his father in a way he never thought possible, and the author really shows Mike growing throughout the story. This is a book you'd want your teenager to read because a lot can be learned as Mike experiences and deals with various difficult situations that many teenagers are faced with. It's also a good book for parents of teenagers to help remind them what it's like to be a teenager and see examples of not-so-great parenting that they should avoid. If You're Reading This is a feel-good read for young adults and up.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  1 scatological word; 4 anatomical terms.


Violence/Gore:  Several (14) brief incidents including verbal threats; talking about war; secondhand report that character's father died; secondhand report of kids fighting and bullying; story of kid getting beat up; secondhand report that character breaks leg in a car accident; someone dies in a book a character is reading; secondhand report of explosion killing people; reference to death threats and bombing; secondhand reports of characters getting killed during war.


Sex/Nudity:  Many (23) brief incidents including slow dancing holding hands; arm around; innuendo; character says he could look down female character's shirt if wanted to (but doesn't); teenage character is "cheated on" (no detail as to what the action was); reference to female anatomy; back rub; making out.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Teenage drinking, racism, death during war.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Adult characters smoke cigars on a few occasions; teenagers drinking alcohol; adult drinks alcohol.

Reviewed By Jenny
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