Second in Command

200p. Enslow. Feb. 2019. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781538382622; pap. $12.90. ISBN 9781538382615.
Gr 8 Up—Sixteen-year-old Leo and his siblings know what it's like to move so many times they're not sure where they're from originally. They know what it's like to live without a mother for months at a time. Luckily, in their town, there are many other military families. There's a support group for kids to go and talk about their concerns, or just hang out and meet others in similar circumstances. Leo loves the duties, responsibilities, and comradeship available through his Boy Scout membership. This interest in service has led him to apply to the Summer Youth Police Academy. His dream of gaining acceptance into the program is threatened when his younger brother, an angry and troubled adolescent, gets into trouble with the law. Left in charge after his mother is deployed, Leo fulfills his schoolwork while also taking on cooking, cleaning, and watching over his younger siblings. His joys, fears, and confusion are expressed in meditative verse—some entries as brief as one sentence. Teens overwhelmed by a parent called up for active duty will connect with this quick read that depicts young people confronting life without the benefit of a consistent parental presence.
VERDICT This novel in verse is recommended for reluctant readers, especially in areas where there is a large military population.

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