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3.3 3
by Tim Tharp

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Ceejay has never been pretty or popular, but she knows who she is: she's younger sister to Bobby, the most charming bad boy in town. Bobby's a bit wild, but with his big heart and sense of fun, everybody loves him. And nobody understands Ceejay like Bobby.

Now, Ceejay can't wait for Bobby to return home from his tour in Iraq. But then he turns up unannounced


Ceejay has never been pretty or popular, but she knows who she is: she's younger sister to Bobby, the most charming bad boy in town. Bobby's a bit wild, but with his big heart and sense of fun, everybody loves him. And nobody understands Ceejay like Bobby.

Now, Ceejay can't wait for Bobby to return home from his tour in Iraq. But then he turns up unannounced and seems to be avoiding his family. And he's so different. His wild streak has become reckless. His sense of fun has become desperate. And seeing this, Ceejay's own tough shell begins to crack. How can she believe in being strong when her hero is broken?

As she tries to get Bobby back, Ceejay begins to reexamine her family, her community, and everyone in her life. What she finds is that true strength is not quite what she thought it was.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—In summer, 2007, tough 16-year-old C.J. gets fired up at any perceived insult toward her older brother Bobby, who is serving in Iraq. When he comes home distinctly changed, her plans and dreams take a fall. It takes the admiration of a new boy in her small Iowa town and the intervention of Captain Crazy, a mentally unstable relic of 1960s hippiedom, to change her ideas of Bobby, herself, and of heroism. Tharp gives a compellingly dim view of small-town life, replete with drinking and driving, drugs, irresponsible sex, overburdened parents, and small-minded residents. C.J. herself isn't the brightest of the batch; the stubbornly narrow streak that Tharp gives his protagonist often comes across as a plot contrivance, as when she flies off the handle at the mere mention of PTSD. Captain Crazy's eccentricities also get far too much page space, pushing the more interesting subplot about C.J. and Bobby's family into a condensed and too-quickly resolved aside. Discounting the unevenness in plot development and oversimplification of the main character, this title offers a tangible sense of place and time and a down-to-earth romance, and could be a welcome addition to high school collections in rural areas boasting many Iraq/Afghan War veterans.—Rhona Campbell, formerly at Washington, DC Public Library
Publishers Weekly
National Book Award Finalist Tharp's (The Spectacular Now) multi-layered story centers around Ceejay, a brash, defensive, but empathetic 16-year-old, eagerly awaiting the return of her beloved older brother, Bobby, from the war in Iraq, with the expectation that they will skip town together. When Bobby returns early, having been discharged for drug possession, Ceejay's family is disappointed and baffled by his uncharacteristically reckless behavior. Bobby drinks too much, cheats on his girlfriend, and spends most of his time with "Captain Crazy," a local eccentric who lost his own brother in Vietnam and is building an "aero-velocipede" flying sculpture while waging a mental war against negative internal and external forces, which he refers to as the "Nogo Gatu." Ceejay pines for the childhood version of her brother, when they were closely united by their tough reputations and moral fortitude. Without the strong connection to Bobby that helped define her, Ceejay is forced to seek a more autonomous identity, one that may require laying down her own armor. With convincing three-dimensional characters, Tharp paints a sympathetic portrait of the constraints of small town life, the struggles of PTSD, and the challenges of faith. Ages 14–up. (Jan.)
VOYA - Diane Colson
Tough girl Ceejay knows the difference between being BAD—acting wild with no regard for the consequences—and being BADD. Her older brother, Bobby, is BADD—wild and courageous and ready to fight for all that is good. Bobby was the one to teach Ceejay how to use her own ferocious energy to face down bullies and protect weaker kids. Now Bobby is slated to return home after serving in Iraq, and Ceejay can barely wait to welcome her adored older brother as a war hero. But when Bobby sneaks back into town, angry and avoiding his family, Ceejay is forced to realize that his war experiences have changed him so fundamentally that they are now strangers. Ceejay is a fighter, however, a BADD fighter, and she refuses to give up on her brother. Unable to understand the depth of his anguish and his determined self-destruction, her attempts to return him to normal are initially frustrating. As in The Spectacular Now (Knopf, 2008), Tharp creates original, complex characters who are stubbornly committed to their flawed (albeit charming) perceptions of life. Tharp interweaves Bobby's war-time experiences with the story of the town crackpot, Captain Crazy, who lost a brother in Vietnam. Ceejay begins to realize that Bobby finds an odd solace in the Captain's irrational presence. Badd is one of several fine young adult novels that focus on the devastating emotional toll of combat, such as The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt (Wendy Lamb Books, 2010/VOYA October 2010) and Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick (Balzer + Bray, 2009/VOYA August 2009). Reviewer: Diane Colson
Children's Literature - Annie Laura Smith
Once the most popular boy in high school, Bobby returns home from Iraq as a young soldier no longer able to relate to himself, or the life he had left behind. He was discharged early because of drug possession, and comes home a very different person. In fact he had stolen a car and had to choose between joining the military or going to jail and this contributed to the lack of broad acceptance when he returned to his small home town. How does his sixteen-year-old sister, Ceejay, relate to this stranger whom she previously adored? His strength gave her the strength she needed. Although he was a risk-taker even in high school, his actions when he returns home go beyond taking risks to being reckless and self-destructive. A local eccentric with whom Bobby becomes friends adds some complexity to the story, and ensures an action-oriented ending. The author addressed PTSD, a timely topic for currently returning servicemen and their families, quite well through the lives of these characters. The reader will empathize with Ceejay and her family's struggles after Bobby returns from combat. Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith
Kirkus Reviews

Alcohol, weed, fighting and sex are par for the course for Ceejay, except sex is not a big thing personally. Her mentor and close pal, big brother Bobby, has always been in and out of trouble, too. When Bobby is dishonorably discharged from service in Iraq, Ceejay can hardly bear his increasingly self-destructive actions. And she really can't stand that he's palling around with Captain Crazy and Mr. White, a loopy Vietnam-era hippie and a geeky boy, respectively, instead of her.Gradually, though, they help to change both her and Bobby's outlook—but when Mr. White, now her friend, suggests that Bobby may be suffering from PTSD, Ceejay can't bear it. Tharp is not quite as sharp with females as with men (Knights of the Hill Country, 2006, etc.), but he successfully draws Ceejay's intensity and pride, as well as her self-destructive behavior, all of which makes her strut and explains both the love and the fight in her. Allowing Ceejay to be reporter and observer hones the story to essentials without moral judgments interfering. Absorbing and redemptive.(Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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453 KB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


Captain Crazy must die.

This might sound like tough talk coming from a girl, but I'm a tough girl. One hundred percent. And my friends, Gillis, Tillman, and Brianna, agree with me about the captain. We trade off ways to do the deed. We'll pickle him in brine, we'll feed him to the blender, the lawn mower, the garbage disposal, the Chihuahua. We'll slice off his fingers and toes like fresh carrots, dice him and mince him and chop off his head. Pack his leftovers in ice, French fry them in a deep-fat fryer. We'll draw and quarter him, go after him with chainsaws and garden shears. We'll stuff him and sell him at the flea market.

No, we won't. Not really. We're not some kind of evil devil cult. But you still don't want to mess with us.

Actually, I'm the only one with a reason to be mad. The others just want something to happen around here. Anything. But with me it's personal because of my brother Bobby. He's in the army, see, in Iraq. Well, he was in Iraq, but now he's in Germany. We're expecting him home in a month, and we sure don't need Captain Crazy putting a hex on him before he gets back. I mean, this time I know he's coming home. He really is. It's just hard to believe it for sure until he wraps me up in one of his big bear hugs and says, "It's me, Ceejay. Don't worry, little sister, don't worry. It's me and I'm home for good."

The Captain Crazy business starts when me and Brianna are cruising in her car and Gillis calls me up and goes, "Listen, Ceejay, you gotta get over here to the courthouse. Captain Crazy's throwing a Vietnam War protest. It's hilarious!"

Vietnam! Leave it to the captain to go all radical over a war that's been over for thirty-something years.

Two minutes later Brianna and I pull up to the courthouse in her car. That's the one and only good thing about living in a town the size of Knowles. Your friends can call and tell you to come somewhere, and you're there practically before they hang up the phone. So when I get to the foot of the courthouse steps, the captain's just starting to really roll, pacing like a preacher on crystal meth, his face red, his eyes bulging. He's not even Captain Crazy anymore. Now he's Reverend Crazy shouting down the devil. And don't you know, if there's anyone who's really seen the devil, it's him.

He's got the usual paisley guitar and the conga drum close at hand but hasn't started in playing them yet. Behind him, three posters on six-foot-tall sticks stand propped against the granite wall, each with flowers painted on them--purple, red, yellow, chartreuse--just like it's really the dead-and-gone sixties hippie days. On the first sign, he's scrawled get out of vietnam now! On the second, it's the president is insane, and the third one says, kiss the fish mouth! Only Captain Crazy knows the secret meaning of that one.

A couple of women, three old men, and about seven kids from school are watching the show. Nothing much else to do on a late-May afternoon in Knowles now that school's out. A couple of older girls from my high school--the cupcake twins, I call them, because they're all sugar frosting and no substance--look at ugly Gillis, huge Goth-girl Brianna, and scrappy little sixteen-year-old pit-bull me with these expressions like, "Oh God, there they are."

Next to the fish-mouth sign, Mr. White stands with his arms crossed like he's the captain's bodyguard, and I have to admit I'm as bad as the cupcake twins because I can't help thinking, Oh God, there he is.

Mr. White. He's even weirder than we are--the long-haired, stick-figure guy from my English class who never says a thing. The new kid in town. Well, actually he's been here a whole year, but in a town where everyone's known you since you were a zygote, you're still the new kid until you've lived here for at least five years.

His real name's Padgett Locke, but we call him Mr. White because he always dresses completely in white. Probably never been in a fight in his life. Today he has on a plain white T-shirt, white shorts, white socks, and white tennis shoes. His skin is almost as white as his clothes. It's like he finally broke out of his room, where he's been cooped up reading books and listening to alternative bands that no one ever heard of, and now he thinks he's at Wimbledon. The only thing not white about him is his long, stringy brown hair and his black-framed glasses. Anyway, I'm not surprised he hooked up with the captain. Maybe he thinks he'll be like an apprentice and take over the job of town eccentric when the captain retires.

Gillis is standing in the front row of the small crowd, grinning like an evil leprechaun. I don't call him a leprechaun because he's short. I mean, he's around my height, five-six, but he's real solid, about as wide as he is tall. No, the leprechaun thing comes from his Irish pug nose and that sparse red wreath of a high-school-boy beard. Not a pretty sight, but he's my buddy, so who cares?

He waves me and Brianna over and goes, "Check this out, Ceejay. The captain's finally lost it all the way down to his socks," and I'm like, "What socks?"

That's the captain for you--ankle-high corduroy pants, ancient ruins for shoes, and no socks. He's a mess. A scraggly sixty-something-year-old reject from a mental ward with a beat-up baseball cap and a beard that doesn't look so much like he grew it as like it exploded out of his face.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

TIM THARP lives in Oklahoma, where he teaches at Rose State College. He is  the author of the highly acclaimed YA novels Knights of the Hill Country and The Spectacular Now, which was a 2008 National Book Award finalist.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Badd 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Ceejay has always been close to her older brother. It's been them against the rest of the world, or at least the rest of their family. Unfortunately, when Bobby's mischievous ways lead to the point of a joyride in a stolen car, a choice must be made. Their parents chose the military over jail for their errant son. With the exception of leave time, it's been years since Ceejay and Bobby have been together. He is expected home soon, and Ceejay can't wait to pick up where they left off. Surely after returning from Iraq, Bobby will be ready to party and enjoy his time with now sixteen-year-old Ceejay. The summer starts with Ceejay's parents announcing that she will be working for her Uncle Jimmy. She'll be slapping paint on whatever project he assigns, but that's better than the job her little sister, Lacy, gets. Lacy will be living with their grandmother several hours away. She'll be taking care of the ungrateful woman while she undergoes chemotherapy. At least, while working for Uncle Jimmy, Ceejay will be at home and able to hang out with Bobby when he gets back. Ceejay is shocked when she sees someone that looks like Bobby cruising by with an old flame. It takes some investigation, but she learns that he has returned from Iraq early but hasn't seen fit to show up and greet his family. When Ceejay discovers where he is staying, she confronts him and discovers that something about him has changed. Bobby's first meeting with family is filled with tension, and a BBQ party planned in his honor turns to chaos when he announces that he was asked to leave the military and earned only a general discharge. Ceejay doesn't care about that. She is just frustrated that he is choosing to hang out and live with Captain Crazy, an old Vietnam protester who lives on a nearby, rundown farm. When a friend suggests that Bobby may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Ceejay is quick to defend her brother and deny the possibility, but as time passes, she realizes there might be some truth to the suggestion. Tim Tharp, author of THE SPECTACULAR NOW, has used his unique talent to create a novel focused on a topic becoming increasingly more common as our soldiers return from war in the Middle East. Families like Ceejay's are facing the return of sons and daughters who aren't the sons and daughters they remember. By including the Vietnam issue, Tharp lets his young readers know this is not the first war to have a profound effect on soldiers and the families left behind. I appreciated the depth of character development and the depiction of the varied emotional impact caused by Bobby's return, as well as the other problems faced by this typical American family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago