Lost in the War

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Overview

Lisa has had enough of the Vietnam War. Her father was killed in it and her mom suffers from terrifying nightmares about her experiences as a nurse in the war. So when her seventh grade class begins a study unit about Vietnam, Lisa is not thrilled. But ultimately she finds a way to make peace with the war that damaged her family. "A vivid and disturbing look at the effects of the Vietnam conflict on both its survivors and those who love them." —Kirkus Reviews

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Overview

Lisa has had enough of the Vietnam War. Her father was killed in it and her mom suffers from terrifying nightmares about her experiences as a nurse in the war. So when her seventh grade class begins a study unit about Vietnam, Lisa is not thrilled. But ultimately she finds a way to make peace with the war that damaged her family. "A vivid and disturbing look at the effects of the Vietnam conflict on both its survivors and those who love them." —Kirkus Reviews

Twelve-year-old Lisa Grey struggles to cope with a mother whose traumatic experiences as a nurse in Vietnam during the war are still haunting her.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In eighth grade in the early 1980s, Lisa Grey is too young to remember the Vietnam War, but she feels its repercussions every day. Her father was killed in Vietnam and her mother, a nurse, still has nightmares about being stationed there. When her history teacher announces a month-long unit on Vietnam, it strikes a reluctant Lisa as a little too close to home. But as she listens to guest speakers and works on an assignment to design a Vietnam War memorial, Lisa develops a fuller understanding of her parents' experiences. Antle (Staying Cool) presents a historically accurate account of war atrocities without bringing the action too close to the front lines. She conveys information through the filtered memories of a disabled veteran, Lisa's mother and Lisa's teacher, who protested the war and avoided the draft. Two scenes are particularly memorable: Lisa's mother speaks to the spellbound class about nursing soldiers; and the Greys attend the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where Lisa leaves a personal tribute to her father. Readers who know little about the Vietnam War and its effects on Americans will find a moving introduction in this sober family drama. Ages 11-up. (June)
VOYA - Beth Karpas
The year is 1982. Lisa and Jenny have always known that their parents met during the Vietnam War, and that their father died there. Less than a month ago they also learned that Mom's depression stems from the war that still haunts her dreams. Lost in the War describes how these junior high sisters and their family cope with understanding the war that shaped their lives. Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedication, this is a promising premise for a historical book about that controversial war and the nurses who served in it. Unfortunately, the book does not live up to its promise. Lisa, as narrator, concentrates on her mother's depression and the Vietnam unit in her history class, but does very little else that a normal thirteen-year-old would do. She goes to a dance with her friends, but both the dance and her friends seem pasted onto the plot, instead of being fully integrated into Lisa's life and story. The other characters are also two-dimensional. There are better books about Vietnam set during the war, such as Eve Bunting's The Wall (Clarion, 1990), which, although it is a picture book, is a much better story about the Memorial. VOYA Codes: 2Q 2P M J (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
KLIATT
After so much about the political protests, blood and gore of Vietnam, Antle's Lost in the War is a refreshing yet heart-wrenching look at the repercussions on the children of Vietnam veterans. Twelve-year-old Lisa feels surrounded and smothered by the Vietnam War: her father lost his life to it; her mother suffers ever-increasing flashbacks from it; her history class is studying the effects of it; her art class is creating monuments for it; and the government is about to unveil "The Wall" to honor it. It only becomes worse when her mother offers to do a presentation for Lisa's history class. It isn't until Lisa travels to DC with her family, and touches her father's name engraved on the reflecting wall of the monument, that she understands that although she would like to block out all the ugly effects the war has had on her life, she cannot deny what is. Like the art project she made by superimposing herself and her sister into a photo of her parents together in Vietnam, she realizes that although the war took the life of her father, it was in Vietnam where her parents fell in love and conceived Lisa and her sister. In this moment of clarity, she places the photo at the foot of the wall, reinforcing the fact that the war cannot and should not be forgotten. Antle's depiction of Vietnam is simply and gently told for the younger reader. Touching upon some harsh realities of war, she focuses more on its emotional ramifications to capture and educate the young reader about Vietnam, war, and its after-effects. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 1998, Penguin/Puffin, 137p, 20cm, 97-18234, $4.99. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Claire M. Dignan; El Centrodel Cardenal School, Boston, MA, November 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 6)
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
Lisa Grey's mother has been back from Vietnam for years, but still has nightmares about her work as a nurse in the war, and the nightmares are getting worse. At fourteen, Lisa has to deal with her mother's nightmares as well as a plethora of "firsts"-her first dance, first crush, and a social studies class that's studying the war that killed her father and left her mother an emotional wreck. Her teacher wants her mother to talk to the class about her experiences, and both Lisa and her younger sister Jenny are terribly worried. When they're told they will all go from New Haven, Connecticut, to Washington D.C. for the dedication of the Vietnam War Memorial-the Wall-Lisa doesn't know what to do. How can she go? How can her mother bear to go? How can her teacher, who was a conscientious objector, dare to go? This is a heartbreaking story with a heart-lifting ending. Recommended for anyone interested in history.
From The Critics
Lost in the War is an intense but sensitive tale about the events surrounding the war in Vietnam—a war that today's parents know all too well. Seventh-grader Lisa Grey doesn't remember her father, though she wears his dog tag under her shirt. Her mother, though, has not recovered from her husband's death and has sunk into a deep depression. She is haunted not only by his death, but by the faces of young soldiers she could not save in the year she served as an army nurse. When her seventh-grade social studies class discusses the Vietnam War, Lisa's mother agrees to share her experiences. Listening to her mother's stories in class, Lisa gains a new perspective about her mother's bitterness. The book's stunning climax takes place in Washington at the Vietnam War memorial where mother and daughter confront their past in a name etched on a wall. Genre: Historical Fiction/Vietnam War 2000, Puffin, 137p
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Set in 1982, the year the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC, this novel breaks new ground with a moving tribute to the women who served in that conflict. Lisa Grey, 12, describes her life with her mother, who is haunted by memories of her tour of duty as a nurse in Vietnam and by the experiences of her soldier husband who was killed there. Lisa and her younger sister worry about their mother's depression and try to deal with the loss of their father. When Lisa's history teacher assigns a project on Vietnam, Lisa rebels. She is tired of the war that has plagued her family. Gradually, however, she begins to realize that accepting the past is the only way to find peace. A supportive group of adults helps Lisa, her sister, and their mother. For different reasons, each character is drawn to the climactic unveiling of "the Wall," where, at last, personal loss is memorialized and, for some, laid to rest. While the adults cope with physical, emotional, and psychological scars, Lisa seeks adolescent acceptance among her peers and tranquillity within her family. She is a likable, sensitive heroine whose symbolic gesture of remembrance, a restored family photo, unites her family in spirit. The interesting mix of characters, energetic writing, historical references, and poignant insights bring this troubling era to life.-Gerry Larson, Durham Magnet Center, Durham, NC
Kirkus Reviews
A vivid and disturbing look at the effects of the Vietnam conflict on both its survivors and those who love them. Lisa Grey's father was killed in Vietnam, and her mother, Mary Ann, served as a nurse there. Ten years later, her mother's fears and nightmares are getting worse instead of better with the passage of time. Lisa and little sister Jenny do their best to cope and to help, but the long-over war is starting to ruin their lives, too. When Lisa's history class begins a month-long study of the war, she is horrified: Is there nowhere she is safe from discussion of that awful place? Matt Parker, a Vietnam veteran who lost his legs, comes to talk to the class; upon hearing that Lisa's mother served at Chu Lai, he asks to meet her, to thank her as one of the nurses who saved the lives of so many soldiers. Through his patience and understanding, Matt helps Mary Ann understand what has happened to her, and why her year in Vietnam was not only the worst of her life, but the best. When in a final, gritty scene, the Greys and Matt visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., they experience its power, and readers know that the long, arduous process of healing has finally begun. The story takes no position on the war, but Antle instills a powerful message about its after-effects into an outwardly simple, telling story of the Grey girls and their mother. (Fiction. 11-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780141308364
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/28/2000
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Age range: 10 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 7.76 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

The author of several works of historical fiction, Nancy Antle has also written two children's books: Staying Cool, praised by Publishers Weekly as "a book that works well on many levels," and Sam's Wild West Show, an IRA-CBC Children's Choice.

Nancy Antle lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2005

    Trying to Get Though the Hard Times

    Lost in the War is about a girl named Lisa and her mom was in the Vietnam War as a nurse. Lisa¿s father had been killed in the same war. It is 10 years later and Lisa mom is still having horrible night mares. Lisa is scared that her mom is never going to be back to normal. Lisa mom has never told any that she was in the war to any one but her family and some one finds out and she goes and talks to Lisa¿s 7th grade class is learning about Vietnam War. Do you think that this will help her mother or make thing worse. I am a middle school student and I picked this book to read in one of my classes. Lost in the War is a good book to read on your spar time. Lost in the War could tell you about how some families might be feeling about the war in Iraq, because it tells you how people feel when there is a war going on. I would rate lost in the war a four out of five. I rate Lost in the War a four because I think the writer could have done a better job of telling the setting, because when you are reading the book you don¿t really always know the whole setting that they are talking about. But besides that I think that Lost in the War is a good book to read. So if you like theses kinds of books that tell you how other people are feeling then Lost in the War is a book for you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2004

    Vietnam War still being fought

    lost in the war was an awesome book. if you like books that are gripping, jerky, sudden, and surprising, you will love this book. it will make you cry, gasp, and laugh

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2003

    bravo

    This book changed my life....now I'm happy again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2000

    lost in the war

    This book is a really good book for young adults . Most of you would be really satisfied with it. It is about a girl thats mom is still all depressed about the war. She was nurse and she saw many people die. she even saw her husband die. Its a really good story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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