Sonny's War

( 2 )

Overview

After her father dies, fourteen-year-old Corin needs her brother, Sonny, more than ever. Sonny is quiet but he's a great listener, and Cory knows where she can always find him - in the garage, working on his car. Life isn't so bad as long as Sonny is around. But thousands of miles from the sleepy little town of Ojala, California, where all the kids can think about is partying and racing, a war is going on, and Sonny is just the right age to be drafted. When Sonny tells Cory he's going to Vietnam, she is ...

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Overview

After her father dies, fourteen-year-old Corin needs her brother, Sonny, more than ever. Sonny is quiet but he's a great listener, and Cory knows where she can always find him - in the garage, working on his car. Life isn't so bad as long as Sonny is around. But thousands of miles from the sleepy little town of Ojala, California, where all the kids can think about is partying and racing, a war is going on, and Sonny is just the right age to be drafted. When Sonny tells Cory he's going to Vietnam, she is devastated. What are she and her mom supposed to do while he's gone? What if he doesn't come back at all? The new substitute history teacher is the only one who seems to understand. Cory has never met anybody like Lawrence. He's young, he's handsome, and he's passionately against the war that took her brother away. As Cory turns to Lawrence for the comfort Sonny once gave, she finds herself wanting much more than Lawrence could ever provide.

Valerie Hobbs eloquently depicts the feelings of loss, betrayal, and love felt by a young woman amid the confusion and excitement of the 1960s.

 

Sonny's War is a 2003 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

In the late 1960s, fourteen-year-old Cori's life is greatly changed by the sudden death of her father and her brother's tour of duty in Vietnam.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hobbs poignantly evokes the turbulent sentiments of 1967-68, a time when the nation was not only at war against Vietnam, but also against itself . . . The author shows what she does best, crafting a believable, multifaceted plot with vivid,

well-rounded characters who learn to love each other - and themselves. Hobbs just gets better and better." —Starred, Kirkus Reviews

"The times, they were a-changin'; and Hobbs chronicles the pivotal years of the late sixties in a convincing, affecting novel . . . Hobbs writes like a dream." —Starred, The Horn Book

"Through Cory, a careful, perceptive observer and a questioning participant, readers glimpse the ambiguities and tensions driving the nation and individual citizens during this difficult time." —Starred, School Library Journal

From The Critics
Cory is fourteen years old and living in Ojala, California. It's a sleepy town where all there is to do is "cruise" Main Street, and watch her brother drag race. She is growing into young womanhood during the exciting, idealistic, confusing, tumultuous 60's. In one year her father dies, her brother is drafted and sent to Vietnam, her favorite history teacher (on whom she has a crush) is a conscientious objector, and she and her mother are forced to become independent. Valerie Hobbs eloquently depicts the turmoil and bittersweet humor of a young girl who deals simultaneously with loss, betrayal, and love within her own life and the lives of people she holds most dear. The story is gripping, memorable, and readable. It is historically accurate and significant. Set during the Vietnam Conflict, the reader "experiences" living the effects of the war on those persons left home. 2002, Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus & Giroux, 224 pp.,
— Linda Broughton
KLIATT
Hobbs gives readers a strong narrative from the year 1968, a terrible year for Cory's family and for America. This is the year of the Tet Offensive, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy. Cory's father died that year, and her older brother Sonny decides to go to fight in Vietnam, even though he could be excused from the draft because of his father's death. So Cory and her mother are left to cope with their grief and fear in the small California town where they are trying to make a go of a small restaurant. Cory is in the 9th grade and soon gets a crush on her new history teacher, a radical graduate student who gets the class asking questions about the war. Cory joins the small peace movement at the high school, even as she gets letters from Sonny, fighting in Vietnam. Aspects of Cory's town are just like the town portrayed in the early George Lucas film American Graffiti, about teenagers seeking thrills riding around in their souped-up cars and daring one another to race. Sonny comes home from the war completely changed in ways that Cory cannot understand. The town's obsession over racing cars becomes an important way for Hobbs to illustrate just how much Sonny has been damaged by the war. This is a powerful story about the effects of a war on society, told in small details of everyday life by an intelligent young teenager, the narrator Cory. Category: Hardcover Fiction. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2002, Farrar, Straus, 215p.,
— Claire Rosser; KLIATT
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-The Vietnam War era comes under scrutiny in this novel. Ojala, CA, is the blue-collar town where Sonny spends his days as a garage mechanic and his nights cruising and racing his rebuilt Ford. Feeling the need to pay his family's debts and believing that his recently deceased father would have wanted him to do so, he brushes aside his 14-year-old sister's suggestion that he flee the draft, and he is shipped out to Vietnam. Meanwhile, Cory helps her mother try to keep the family restaurant open and begins high school, where she develops a huge crush on a young history teacher who's an antiwar activist. Hobbs gives readers a good idea of the temper of the time, and of the place and people about whom she's writing. The nicely drawn teenagers of this small, sleepy community are unprepared for the consequences when three of their crowd enter the service (one dies and two are wounded). But it's the antiwar movement that receives the most penetrating examination through the sensitive, yet ultimately self-serving teacher who proves to be a rich kid who can avoid prosecution for torching an Army recruitment center, and the conflicted Sonny, who is last seen leaving home wearing a backpack with a peace sign on it. Through Cory, a careful, perceptive observer and a questioning participant, readers glimpse the ambiguities and tensions driving the nation and individual citizens during this difficult time.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In what is now almost historical fiction, Hobbs (Tender, 2001, etc.) poignantly evokes the turbulent sentiments of 1967-68, a time when the nation was not only at war against Vietnam, but also against itself. Even small-town Ojala, California, where the favorite pastimes are hanging out at the Frostee and drag racing, does not go untouched by the conflict. The year begins with death of 14-year-old Corin's father; although a smoker and a drunk, he was a reassuring presence who answered all her questions. Cory's older brother, Sonny, becomes her new confidant, but when he is called to duty, Cory and her mother must cope with their new lives-Cory surviving high school, her mother running the family café, and both constantly worrying about Sonny. Cory turns yet again to another man for support-her Jesus-sandals-wearing, longhaired, contentious-objector history teacher, known simply as Lawrence, who tries to raise awareness of the war, but upsets the school board in the process. Her infatuation with Lawrence leads her to a "peace" rally, where she discovers his true nature. This realization; Sonny's letters filled with fear, despondency, and disillusionment; and a growing relationship with her mother lead Cory to question the lines that divide generations, love, peace and war, and heroes. Now she must find her own answers. Occasional divine interventions from Cory's father ease her way and lighten the subject matter. The author shows what she does best, crafting a believable, multifaceted plot with vivid, well-rounded characters who learn to love each other-and themselves. Hobbs just gets better and better. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374469702
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 3/21/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,085,754
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.45 (w) x 8.27 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Valerie Hobbs is the recipient of the 1999 PEN/Norma Klein Award, a biennial prize that recognizes "an emerging voice of literary merit among American writers of children's fiction." She is the author of young adult and middle-grade novels including Sheep, Defiance, Anything but Ordinary, and The Last Best Days of Summer. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. in English from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she has taught academic writing. Valerie lives in Santa Barbara, California, with her husband.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2007

    Sonny's Bloody Decisons

    Sonny¿s War is about a girl named Corin a fourteen year old girl who¿s dad died just a couple of months ago. She has only her brother and mother to grieve with, but Sonny may get drafted. When Sonny¿s around everything is good. Corin finds out that her only brother and best friend is going to Vietnam. Corin is devastated about that happening. Every other person in her town care just about car racing and partying and getting high. A war is going on thousand of miles away and no one seems to not care that innocent people are getting hurt including her brother. In Corins mind, she questions what are her mother and herself to do while he is away over the ocean killing maybe innocent people? One thing I didn¿t like about this book was the fact that there was not really action or guns or the character telling how it was in Vietnam. If there was more of that the reader would enjoy this book. One thing good about the book was there was a car. A small sporty car uses for Corin to feel free. It talked about the grieving process after a family member has died.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2006

    Learning to Cope......

    Ojala is a small town in California where the teenagers rule the road and just cruise Main Street for fun. Fourteen-year old Cory is learning how the world works while she is waiting for her brother to return from the war. 1968 was a terrible year for Cory¿s family and America. With the Vietnam War and her dad passing away in the beginning of the year, Cory and her mother are forced to become independent. Going into the 9th grade, Cory has a new history teacher who strongly opposes the war. When Sonny comes home from the war, he has been completely changed. Lawrence, the history teacher, prefers to be called his first name and has a very personal relationship with his students. After burning down an Army Recruit Center, Lawrence proves that if you have money, you can get out of anything. Cory ¿falls out of love¿ with Lawrence after this act, and she loses all respect for him. After Sonny comes back from the war and stays at home for about a month, then he just gets so fed up with everything, so he leaves. Through Cory, Valerie Hobbs teaches us how to deal with whatever comes at us and just go with the flow.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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