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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The God of War

The God of War by Marisa Silver, 2008, Simon & Schuster, $23.00.

My new friend at Simon & Schuster, Wendy, emailed me about this book and told me it was a "Must Read". Well folks, she did not steer me wrong - it was a great story that will stay with me for a long while. It is a coming of age book about a 12 year boy, Ares, and his flighty mother and half brother, Malcolm, who is mentally challenged and cannot speak. Ares is exactly six years older than Malcolm and holds a secret close to him at all times. Ares thinks he is the cause of Malcolm's mental disability because when Malcolm was a baby, Ares accidentally dropped Malcolm on the concrete at a gas station. Laurel, the mother, and Malcolm were rushed to the hospital, while leaving Ares behind. As he tells the story, the convenience store clerk was the one to take Ares to the emergency room to find his family. Laurel does not know that Ares blames himself for his brother's condition and why Ares feels like he always has to protect his younger brother. Laurel is a free spirit whose maternal instincts border on incompetent because while she does have a job and does the basics of raising her sons, Ares is the one left in complete charge of Malcolm and his daily activities. This responsibility for a 12 year is daunting and Ares struggles with his guilty feelings and resentment that he does not have a normal kid brother who does not have to be watched 24 hours a day. The three live in a trailer on the edge of Southern California's Salton Sea.

This is a fast and great read...I bonded with the characters, especially Ares (whose name means God of War). I was not sure as I read the story that he would have a happy life, but after I finished I reflected and decided his life, especially his adolescent life, while troubled was almost larger than life. I can totally see a production company scooping this story up and making a wonderful movie!