'roark dowell

Book Information

Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books May 2022

When your father goes off to war and gets hurt - what happens to you? How do you feel and what do you do with those feelings...those fears...that anger?

Haz is the fastest safety playing football in Cumberland County and it's killing him that he can't play football right now. Instead he is spending Monday afternoons working with a therapist trying to process his feelings especially the anger that made him lose control of himself and slam into a player illegally on the football field.

Feelings?  What feelings?  As far as Haz is willing to tell you, he has no feelings.  He can't explain why he hurt that kid and he isn't going to dig inside and find those feelings he's got crammed down inside somewhere in the darkness where he is afraid to go looking for himself.

Told in quick page after page of emails and phone texts this is the story of a boy whose father was blown up by an IED in Afghanistan.  This is the story of the father's loss and this is the story of how those losses ricochet around inside the body and the mind of his two sons.  Those boys don't have any idea of what to do with their feelings.  They barely know they are hurting inside as much as their Dad is hurting inside.

Haz fights a good fight against his therapist.  He answers all the questions in the "workbook" and he does all the family interviews he's asked to do.  But there really aren't easy answers when you can't even see your dad, when your mom is at Walter Reed Medical Center to be there for him and no one it seems- except your grandmother - is there for you.

This story centers on the emotional trauma of a military family working through the loss of a limb and the challenge of the results of a decision made - a decision that should never be asked of anyone.  Our military families live with this trauma and plenty of abused children live with equal emotional trauma as well.  They live with choices they are forced to make that truly have no right answer.

This is an exquisite journey into that dark and incredibly difficult space where every child deserves to be held and loved and reassured that life is good and that they will move on through this dark and painful time.

So, come on and meet Haz.  It's important to understand how feelings can make us do things we don't even know we are capable of doing. It's important to understand that you need to give yourself time to process those feelings so you can heal them and not carry them with you minute after minute and hour after hour.

The voices are so real; the feelings are so universal; the healing journey is so possible.  Hope - always there - and we can watch Haz find it.

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com

160 pages                                            978-1481424660                                    Ages 9-13

Keywords:  football, anger, military families, fathers/sons, mothers/sons, dealing with feelings, dealing with anger, dealing with emotions, healing, therapy, mental health, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, 13 year old, forgiveness


A kid filled with rage, kicked off the football team for unsportsmanlike conduct, and his father, newly home from the war in Afghanistan, reckon with the injuries they’ve caused to others and themselves​ in this unflinching middle grade novel in verse about love and forgiveness.

Everybody knows Hazard Stokes has mad football skills. A defensive back, he’s never played dirty (no need for that when you’re as good as he is) so it’s a shock when he makes a bad hit the first game of the season and gets thrown off the field.

Now Coach won’t let him back on the team until a therapist gives the thumbs up. At first, Haz denies there’s a problem, but over time he starts to get it: When your dad’s at Walter Reed Medical Center getting fitted for a prosthetic limb to replace a leg lost in an IED blast (and won’t let you come visit him while he’s there), it might make you angry enough to hurt somebody.

On top of that, Haz discovers his dad’s dealing with wounds that go deeper than the loss of a leg. What happens when a soldier makes a split-second decision that haunts him long after the battle is over?

Through emails, texts, and family interviews, Haz slowly begins to understand how the body keeps score when bad things happen to people you love, and how the anger and confusion you feel can become the violence you commit. Both Hazard and his dad have to come to terms with the suffering they’ve caused other people—and themselves.---from the publisher

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