From the Publisher
Jefferson Cup Award Winner
Booklist Editors' Choice
ALA Best Book for Young Adults
IRA Notable Book for a Global Society
*"...[a] stirring debut novel
will make readers want to rush to the end and then return to the beginning again to make connections between past, present, friends and enemies."--Booklist, starred review
*"The verse form carries highly charged emotions and heavy content with elegiac simplicity."--Kirkus, starred review
*"Using spare free verse, first-time novelist Burg beautifully evokes the emotions of a Vietnamese adoptee as he struggles to come to terms with his past."--Publishers Weekly, starred review
the story is a lovely, moving one."--School Library Journal
Using spare free verse, first-time novelist Burg (Pirate Pickle and the White Balloon) beautifully evokes the emotions of a Vietnamese adoptee as he struggles to come to terms with his past. Although he loves his American parents and new little brother, Matt misses the family he left behind two years ago, in 1975, when he was airlifted out of Vietnam. He feels guilty for leaving behind his toddler brother, who was mutilated by a bomb, and yearns for his birth mother, who pushed him "through screaming madness/ and choking dust" into the arms of soldiers. ("My parents say they love me./ He says/ I'll always be his MVP./ She says./ I'm safe, I'm home./ But what about my mother in Vietnam?") Matt's baseball coach and Vietnam vet piano teacher help ease his pain, but it is the patience and unconditional love of his new parents, gently emerging throughout the story, that proves the strongest healing force. The war-torn Vietnamese village that appears in Matt's recurring nightmares sharply contrasts with the haven he has in America. Burg presents lasting images of both. Ages 11-up. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
This is a beautifully written novel in verse from a first time author. Matt is a young Vietnamese boy who was airlifted out of Vietnam in 1975. Two years later, living in the U.S. with his adoptive parents and little brother Tommy, Matt is plagued by his guilt over leaving Vietnam and his biological brother and mother, unsure how long he will be welcome in the home of his new family, and worried about some of the boys at school who seem determined to blame him for what happened to their brothers or fathers during the war. Added to that is Matt's fear of rejection; his biological father was an American soldier who promised Matt's mother that he would return for her and his sons but never did. Matt has wonderful support, though, in the form of his adoptive parentswho are more than willing to help Matt find out what has happened to his Vietnamese mother and brotherhis baseball coach and his piano teacher, a Vietnam veteran. Matt's insecurities feel real throughout, and the manner in which he resolves some of his issues are true to the character and the nature of the text. There is also the feeling that he will be prepared to handle other life challenges as they come about, and this is the real strength of the book. This is a must have in any middle school library, but it could also be used effectively with Walter Dean Myers Fallen Angels or with The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien to present another aspect of the Vietnam War. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
In 1977, 12-year-old Matt Pin lives a fractured life. He is the son of a Vietnamese woman and an American soldier and was airlifted to safety from the war zone. Adopted by a caring American couple, he has vivid and horrific memories of the war and worries about the fates of his mother and badly injured little brother. Matt's adoptive family adores him, and he is the star pitcher for his middle school baseball team, but there are those who see his face and blame him for the deaths of the young men they lost in the war. The fractured theme runs the course of this short novel in verse: Matt's family, the bodies and hearts of the Vietnam vets, the country that is "only a pocketful of broken pieces" that Matt carries inside him. Ultimately, everything broken is revealed as nonetheless valuable. While most of the selections read less like poems and more like simple prose, the story is a lovely, moving one. Use this in a history class or paired with Katherine Applegate's Home of the Brave (Feiwel & Friends, 2007).-Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO
Matt Pin's story, told in first-person verse, opens with the evacuation of refugees near the end of the Vietnam War. Afterward Matt, an Amerasian, is adopted by a loving American family. Two years later, he remains haunted by a past in which his soldier father abandoned him, his mother gave him up and his brother was maimed before his eyes. He suffers deeply from prejudice when he tries out for the school baseball team and from his misunderstanding of both his biological and adoptive families' motives. Through the efforts of two veterans, Matt begins to understand that his mother gave him away because she loved him, not because he was culpable in the crippling of his brother. In recognizing the analogous suffering endured by others touched by the war, Matt begins to resolve the conflicts of his spirit. Graceful symmetries between brother and brother, father and son, past and present, guilt and forgiveness shed light on the era and the individual. The verse form carries highly charged emotions and heavy content with elegiac simplicity. A memorable debut. (Historical fiction. 10-14)