Author: Valerie Hobbs
Publisher: Farrar, Straus And Giroux
It’s always hard to watch a brother go off to war. It’s especially hard for Cory, who not only opposes the war but also has to fill the void of her brother being gone.
In Sonny’s War by Valerie Hobbs, Cory’s life isn’t what you would call easy. Set in the 1960s of Ojala, Calif., Cory is 14 and trying to cope with the recent death of her father. She finds that talking to her brother, Sonny, helps a lot.
However, Sonny gets drafted, and he has no choice but to head off to Vietnam. That leaves Cory with her only friend, Lisa, who wants to hang out only when she and her boyfriend break up. Then there’s her mother, but her mom doesn’t listen or understand like Sonny because she is still dealing with the loss of her husband, who died of a heart attack.
Cory develops a crush on her new social studies teacher, Lawrence, who dislikes the war as much as she does. All she wants is comfort, but Lawrence makes clear that they cannot be together. So Cory returns to her unsatisfying life, with the occasional letters from Sonny. She can sense that Sonny has changed and wants him to come home, where he won’t be in danger and she can talk to him again.
Sonny’s War isn’t exactly boring, but it isn’t convincing either. It’s hard to feel Cory’s sadness. She says she misses Sonny, Lawrence and her dad, but she never really goes in depth about how horrible it feels to lose someone close to you.
“I don’t know why I didn’t talk to Mom instead of to Sonny, who was gone, and Dad, who was never coming back. Maybe it was because Mom would always try and fix things.”
Some passages of the book are entertaining and lighten the mood a bit, like when Cory talks to Lisa. But generally the book is kind of a downer and unrealistic. Though Cory doesn’t come up with a lot of emotions, she comes up with a lot of deep questions about life and how people live. Here's an example:
“This was the thing; could a person who was mostly good do a really bad thing and still be good? Could a person be good one day and bad the next, and be good the day after that? Could a person who was good to children and spiders but bad to the American government still be a good person? And then what about people who lied and drove without a license?”
This seems out of character for Cory. It comes out of nowhere and throws the story off topic. Instead, the author should have taken more time describing Cory’s feelings and concerns.
If you are a teen looking for a book with deep meaning and thought, I wouldn’t recommend this one. Sonny’s War wasn’t unbearable, but it needs stronger descriptions and a more interesting plot. I would recommend this book to a fair reader ages 9-12 because the vocabulary is pretty simple and the plot isn’t complicated.
Copyright 2012 Y-Press