Knopf, 2008 (2008)
Reviewed by Lyn Seippel
rden grew up in a military family. Her dad died recently in a car accident, and soon afterwards her mother is deployed to Iraq, working as a nurse in the military hospital. Arden worries about her constantly, checking email daily to make sure she's still alive.
hen college breaks for the summer, Arden has the responsibility of going to Sardinia, Italy, and closing up their house there. Even though theirs was only a vacation house, it was the only real home she's ever known. She and her mother agree it should be sold, but Arden hates that she is the one who must take care of putting it on the market.
uring the flight to Paris, Arden meets three other college students from Texas. She envies their close friendships, something she has never experienced. When they invite her to join them for a few days in Paris, she agrees, although snap decisions go against her nature. Their carefree trek from France to Italy makes Arden feel she belongs, but an argument sends her on to Sardinia alone.
tein's protagonist has a personal stake in the war in Iraq. It's not something she's only aware of through news stories. Her life is in stark contrast to those of the carefree Texas teenagers who just want to enjoy their summer vacations. Despite their different backgrounds they become friends. Arden teaches us all that war is very personal to the military families who live their lives knowing that their loved ones are in danger.
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