Title: Shooting the Moon
Author: Frances O'Roark Dowell
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Date Finished: 18 July 2008
My Rating: On several occasions I've thought about taking away the ratings I give books. Too often I have a difficult time placing a neat, cut and dry rating on a book. This is one of those times. I really enjoyed this book but I don't think I want to give it 5 stars. I try to reserve the 5s for books that I absolutely loved and think I will read again and will rave to all my friends and family about. I don't think this book falls into that category. But then again, maybe it does? A 4 goes to a book that I really enjoyed but am not gushing over. A 3, just an average read, nothing great but I didn't hate the book. A 2 generally means that I did not like it but realize others with different tastes might like it. The book was not horrible. I just did not like it. A 1 star means that I think the book was absolute tripe and in my opinion not worth any one reading. So, after writing all that out I think I have finally decided what to rate this book. I really enjoyed it and do think it is above average so...
Maybe I should go read it again. (Oh, but that means I should give it a 5! See what I mean about having a hard time assigning a rating?)
"When twelve-year-old Jamie Dexter's brother joins the Army and is sent to Vietnam, Jamie is plum thrilled. She can't wait to get letters from the front lines describing the excitement of real-life combat: the sound of helicopters, the smell of gunpowder, the exhilaration of being right in the thick of it. After all, they've both dreamed of following in the foot steps of their father, the Colonel. But TJ's first letter isn't a letter at all. It's a roll of undeveloped film, the first of many. What Jamie sees when she develops TJ's photographs reveals a whole new side of the war. Slowly the shine begins to fade off of Army life - and the Colonel. How can someone she's worshiped her entire life be just as helpless to save her brother as she is?"
This is the first time I have read a book by Frances O'Roark Dowell and I really enjoyed her writing. The story and Jamie just seemed to vividly float off the page. Here are a few examples,
"We were stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, a flat piece of real estate that threatened to burst into flames every afternoon from June through September." (11)
"You would have thought the very idea of TJ enlisting would have sent the Colonel cartwheeling down Tank Destroyer Boulevard, Fort Hood's main drag. But when the announcement came, over a Sunday dinner in March, a couple of days after TJ's eighteenth birthday, he didn't say a word for a long time, just looked down at his plate like the medium-rare steak staring back up at him was about to whisper the meaning of life." (17)
' "She'll be happy when we win,' I told him.
Private Hollister looked skeptical. 'If you say so.'
'I don't say so. I know so.'
And I did know so. I knew it like I knew my name: Jamie Dexter. I knew it like I knew my birthday:December 10. I knew it like I knew the flag: fifty stars, thirteen stripes, red, white and blue, all in all a piece of cloth worth going to war for.
I was six months away from turning thirteen and I thought I knew everything." (8-9)
I could go on, but you'll just have to read the book. :-)
Jamie's character felt real in her exuberance and confidence. She was naive but you could understand and believe her naivety towards war and combat. She had been raised by an army colonel and loved the army way of life.
As the story unfolds and Jamie gets to know soldiers at the rec center where she volunteers and as she develops the film her brother sends her, she starts to see things a little differently and begins to realize that real life, real war and her father are much more complicated than she had believed.
This is Jamie's story, from her point of view. I think if Dowell had tried to make the book longer or added more about the other characters, like more about the Colonel and his motivations, we would have lost something in the telling. The book is short and to the point but still tells a powerful story.