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Review: If You're Reading This by Trent Reedy

Title: If You're Reading This
Author: Trent Reedy
Year Published: 2014

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 296
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2015 Google Reading map)USA (Iowa)

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book):
 The letter arrives a few weeks before Mike's sixteenth Birthday. If you're reading this, then I'm very sorry, but I was killed in the war in Afghanistan. Mike's dad died when he was eight, and Mike has always tried to be a good guy like his father was. Now someone is sending him letters Dad wrote before his death, filled with the stories and wisdom he didn't get to share in his life. For me, everything changed at sixteen. Each letter gives Mike a mission to complete. Get an A on a paper. Go to a party. Take a chance with a girl. Follow your dream. Inspired by his father's words, Mike goes out for the football team and gets to know the beautiful Isma... Whatever it is you've been wanting to do, give it your best...only to discover his biggest mission may be at home--and the story behind the letters is more intense than he ever imagined. I miss you, buddy.

Review: This book has a lot going for it: romance; sports; family and fried stuff; and coming of age. Mike is a good guy and as a sophomore in high school is trying to figure out where he fits in. He doesn't have money like his classmates, so he has to work after school every day at a neighbor's farm. It's hard work, but he makes decent money and has a good father-figure and friend in his boss. Mike does well in school and knows that this is his mom's priority. His sister Mary is a pain, as many 13 year old siblings are, but they also have each other's backs when needed.

The football aspect of the book is interesting as well. Mike struggles a lot with the bullying and cruel attitudes of some of his teammates. But, I like that other teammates are not stereotypical jocks. Football is important in this small Iowa town and it definitely helps Mike make friends, gain confidence, and figure out what it means to be part of a team.

Isma. The Iranian girl that Mike likes. This friendship and romance is good and I really liked this aspect of the novel. I think it's well done, realistic, and made me happy.

The letters are gut wrenching. I cannot image losing my father at a young age, but to also receive letters from him as I turn 16 would be both overwhelming and amazing. It was a great way to bring in the dad character. The author served in the Iowa National Guard in Afghanistan so these letters are realistic and heartfelt.

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