Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Second in Command based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
This is what is considered “hi-lo” fiction—short books that are designed to encourage young, reluctant readers to read more. This one seems like it is aimed for an early middle school to early high school audience, so basically mid-middle grade and early young adult. This novel focuses on how a family is affected when one member is deployed for the army—in this case, it is the main character’s mother. After his mother has left, Leo has to take charge of many household duties, including taking care of his two younger siblings. On top of this, Leo discovers that his brother, Jack, has become tangled up in a dangerous situation while running with the wrong crowd. Leo needs to find a way to hold his family together in the absence of their mother. I quite enjoyed this story and found it really easy to get into. Van did a very good job building her characters and creating the atmosphere and tone of the narrative in such a short amount of time. I know I sound silly saying this about books in the hi-lo format, but I wish there was more to this story. I want to hear more about these characters’ lives—about how these major changes affect them—and learn more about what it is like to have a parent in the army. Van manages to pack a ton of emotion and heart into this book, which I was impressed by. I really do think this is a book that would entice reluctant readers as well as introduce them to a topic they might not be fully aware of.
A beautiful book about the challenges facing a modern military family. When his mom deploys, Leo is asked to look after his siblings and make sure they stay out of trouble. Readers will feel the tension increase as the story progresses and Leo must figure out how to support his family without giving up his ideals. The format is perfect for struggling readers at the middle and high school level. The different types of poetry and figurative language used throughout the book provide excellent models for teachers. The story line offers opportunities for discussion about moral beliefs and values.