Book Recommendation of the Week for Teens

Megan’s Recommendation –

“Shattered” by Eric Walters

Fifteen year-old Ian needs 40 hours of community service if he wants to pass Grade 10 course.  He ends up in one of the most demanding volunteer placements available, serving food to homeless men at The Club – a soup kitchen on a tough side of town. Ian makes it clear that he’s only there for the hours. Mac, the tough, straight-talking guy who runs The Club, likes the teen with no empathy or understanding about life for the homeless.  For Ian who is from the suburbs and leads a life of priviledge, the grim realities, dangers, isolation and invisibility of life on the street opens his eyes in a dramatic way.
Ian is rescued from a violent mugging by Sarge, a former soldier, who is now living with other homeless men in a small camp of tents hidden away in the park.  He wonders how a man who is so clearly educated, self-disciplined and rational, could end up on the streets. Assigned by his Civics teacher to interview someone from the Armed Forces, Ian seeks out the former soldier and learns about his twenty-four year career in the military, and the many UN peacekeeping missions in which he participated. But, when Sarge mentions Rwanda and Ian admits to knowing nothing about this place, Sarge clams up, obviously distressed.
Ian learns about the 1994 Rwandan genocide and that people from other parts of the world have also been witness to atrocities, including his own housekeeper, who lives with the memories of Guatemala’s Disappeared.  His experiences, both at The Club and with Sarge, change the way Ian sees the world and himself. He finds himself going to the soup kitchen, long after his 40 hours are done, hooked on the need to help.  After a lot of soul searching, Ian decides to tackle Sarge about his drinking, and to do everything he can to aid the former soldier in facing his nightmares and finding the courage to live again. Shattered is an important story about two very difficult topics, homelessness and forgotten veterans.

Any book that gets teens to look beyond their immediate circle of friends and family and think about the sacrifices others make for us is a good thing!  You could challenge your group, school, class or resource centre to do a book club with this book and then come up with a plan of how they could volunteer some of their time to support your military community.  If you have a teen, read this book together and then challenge each other to both commit some time to helping others.

For more information about our blogs, books and resources please go to: http://www.whileyouwereaway.org

To submit a tip or book recommendation of your own, write to: Megan@whileyouwereaway.org

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