Friday, May 20, 2022


Dowell, Frances O'Roarke. Hazard
May 10th 2022 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Hazard should be used to having his parents in the military, since both his mother and father have served for most of his life, but he still didn't quite expect his father to come home missing a leg after a bombing. He seems to be dealing with it... until he tackles someone much too strenuously on the football field. In order for him to come back to the team, he has to go to counseling, and his story is told through texts to friends, e mails with his counselor, interviews with relatives, and older e mails that his father sent to his mother from Afghanistan. His father is now at Walter Reed Medical Center, recuperating and getting fitted for a prosthetic leg. Hazard and his brother Tyler have been to see him a few times, and Hazard knows he should be grateful that his father is still alive. It's hard, though, especially when he starts to realize that his father is also struggling to come to terms with the incident in Afghanistan that led to his injury. Hazard thought that losing a leg would be hard for his father, but it turns out that there are even tougher psychological injuries that need to be addressed. It's not easy for Hazard to come to terms with all of these things, and his anger still is manifesting itself on the football field. Will he be able to understand the root cause of his anger so that he can continue on, hopefull on the football field as well?
Strengths: There are not a lot of books that deal with military families, and the plight of a parent coming home from serving and being injured is one that could use a lot more discussion. Hazard's family life is supportive, and both of his grandmothers step in from time to time to help. It seems like everything is holding together... until it's not. I think that anger issues are often a bit surprising, and the way that Hazard's emotional state is shown is done very well. The questions and answers with the therapist really get to the root of his problems, and we see this unfold at the same time he does. This reminded me a bit of Meyer's Monster in the construction of the format. The text is brief but really packs a punch. 
Weaknesses: I had hoped there would be more football in the book, and the short e mails and nonlinear format occasionally makes it harder to understand what's going on. 
What I really think: This was an intriguing, short read that might resonate with reluctant readers. It's a rather different type of book than Dowell usually writes, but it definitely fills a niche, and is an excellent book to describe and explain some of the causes of PTSD. 

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review. I hope this book is helpful to some specific readers grappling with this situation--or for those who need to learn empathy!