Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Back to Bataan, Jerome Charyn (4 stars)

Back to Bataan Summary

New York City, 1943. War is raging in Europe and the Pacific, while Jack Dalton is stuck attending Dutch Masters Day School. What Jack really wants is to enlist in the army, to fight...

Everything changes when Coco, Jack's "fiancee," throws him over for one of his classmates. Jack sees red and does something drastic. Then he runs away. Hiding out in a nearby park, Jack joins ranks with a group of vagrants and is soon under the sway of a man called the Leader, an ex-convict who is as articulate and charismatic as he is dangerous. The Leader turns Jack's world upside down. To put things right, Jack must prove himself a braver soldier than he ever imagined.

For more information on the book, please visit the book's website, GoodReads page, and #BacktoBataan on Twitter.
Eleven is such a young age to be so grown up, but that's exactly what Jack Dalton is. He's wise beyond his years, fiercely loyal, and determined to figure it all out. Jack's the product of too much loss in a short time, starting with the death of his father. His mother, desperate to give her son every chance, isn't around like she would like.
When Jack loses his girlfriend, who he calls his fiancee, he gives into the pain and loss and lets his emotions rule. Then, in fear of the repercussions, he hides out with some unsavory fellows. Their leader, called The Leader, becomes an odd sort of influence in Jack's life. This man, someone others see as a dangerous criminal, ends up being an important part of Jack becoming his own man.
The most memorable books to me are the ones that have characters you can't shake. Jack Dalton is definitely one of those, but so are two of the men that influence who he becomes: The Leader and Mr. Fink. My favorite, Mr. Fink. Not only was he perceptive, he was determined to make sure Jack didn't drown in the sadness and misfortune surrounding him. I also loved the characters of Coco, Jack's girlfriend, because she brought out Jack's softer side, and Jack's mother, because she was willing to do anything for him.
When you finish reading Back to Bataan, you have hope. Hope for Jack, and for others like him. Hope for love, and its power. Hope for what's right, even if what's wrong seems to rule the day for awhile.
If you are looking for a memorable read with characters that start to feel like home, pick up Back to Bataan. It takes you on a journey. Although it's Jack's journey, you'll find yourself affected as well. It's powerful in a subtle way, one that might take you days to digest.
Note: Since the book is considered young adult, I am concerned that younger readers won't appreciate it like adults. The timeframe and history might not be as appealing to that age group. However, I do think it would be an excellent book to be used in schools.
Rating: 4 stars
Jerome Charyn's Bio
Jerome Charyn (born May 13, 1937) is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.”

New York Newsday hailed Charyn as “a contemporary American Balzac,” and the Los Angeles Times described him as “absolutely unique among American writers.”

Since 1964, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.

Charyn lives in Paris and New York City.
For more information on the author, please visit his website, Facebook page, on Twitter, and on GoodReads.
Buy Back to Bataan
This is a blog tour, please visit the Back to Bataan blog tour site for more stops.

Note: I received a complimentary copy from Tribute Books for review purposes. No other compensation was received. A positive review was not guaranteed or requested; the views expressed are my own.

For more information on Tribute Books, please visit their website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.


Tribute Books said...

Tia, I'm so glad that the characters in this one made you feel like you were coming home. Thanks for the fine review!

Tia Bach said...

Nicole, I'm passing this one onto my 7th grader. Thanks for including me on the blog tour!