Operation Oleander by Valerie O. Patterson.
Publication Date: March 2013
List Price: $16.99
Review: Troops, bomb. The words in my head repeat like music that won't stop. At the bottom of the TV screen the words 'BREAKING NEWS' blare in red letters." Operation Oleander by Valerie O. Patterson has many suspenseful moments like this that keep you reading until the end. The main character of this book is a thirteen-year-old girl named Jess, whose father is enlisted in Afghanistan. She will make events such as this one leave you eagerly waiting to see what will happen next. Jess will additionally cause you to really love this book, just like I did.
On a pleasant morning, government men surprisingly show up at Jess' house to inform the family that a bomb went off in Afghanistan. They tell Jess and her family that her father is injured, and two other American soldiers are dead, one including her friend, Meriwether's mother. Later in the day, Jess goes to set up the Operation Oleander donation table. All of the donations go to an orphanage in Afghanistan, so they can pay for supplies to get an education. Today, it seems as if people don't appreciate it as much because of the bomb. Therefore, she leaves to visit Meriwether, who was not in a good mood at all. Meriwether gave Jess a feeling she didn't want to be her friend anymore. Will Jess ever be able to start Operation Oleander again, and will she reclaim her friendship with Meriwether?
Operation Oleander is a book that certainly keeps you on your toes. For example, when Jess debates whether or not her dad really is okay when she talks to him over the phone. On top of this, Valerie O. Patterson creates a very inspiring plot, one that many readers 10 years and older would enjoy, and not be able to put down. Operation Oleander is intended for this age for a few reasons. First, there are a couple parts where kids might not understand if they don't have insight about wars between countries. In particular, when Jess' mom tells her that her dad suffers shrapnel being in his eye, people might not know what shrapnel is. Secondly, there are some intense situations, such as when Meriwether tells Jess, "If it wasn't for you, my mom wouldn't have been at that stupid orphanage in the first place." However, the vocabulary isn't too complicated, with only some words such as casualties and fulfillment, so it would be a comfortable read for kids this age. In addition, if you read at fair level, it wouldn't be a long read only being 187 pages. Likewise, some students that read at a lower level may think this is a long book. Furthermore, the theme of this book is if something goes wrong, you should still try to keep with it. This can be a very important message to people of all ages, especially kids, who are discouraged easily. The main character, Jess will compel you to get up and try to resolve your problem. For instance, when someone detours around the Operation Oleander donation table, Jess has to find out what she can do better so people appreciate it again. Besides that, she could just make you want to start helping others, like she did for the orphans. I doubt that readers will disagree--- Operation Oleander is a great novel, and I would definitely read it again!
Review written by Amber (6th grade student).
We would like to thank Houghton Mifflin for providing a copy of Operation Oleander for this review.
Have you read Operation Oleander? How would you rate it?