Mike was seven when his father was killed in mysterious circumstances in Afghanistan. Eight years later, the family still hasn’t recovered: Mike’s mom is overworked and overprotective; his younger sister Mary feels no connection to the father she barely remembers; and in his quest to be “the man of the family,” Mike knows he’s missing out on everyday high school life.
Then, out of the blue, Mike receives a letter from his father – the first of a series Dad wrote in Afghanistan, just in case he didn’t come home, meant to share some wisdom with his son on the eve of Mike’s 16th birthday. As the letters come in, Mike revels in spending time with his dad again, and takes his encouragement to try new things – to go out for the football team, and ask out the beautiful Isma. But who’s been keeping the letters all these years? And how did Dad actually die? As the answers to these mysteries are revealed, Mike and his family find a way to heal and move forward at last.
For a teenager who had been dealing with pain and suffering since his father passed away, Mike showed a great maturity in his actions to help his mother in being the man of the house. His great of affections towards his family and trying to understand their situation always made him sacrificing his teenage experience. Even when he was moody, he had always placed his family first and he just wanted to have fun being a teenager for once. This well written and in-depth character made me tear when he felt a sense of lost at times.
Mike’s mother was a character that showed that she was unable to remorse the death of her husband and in the end, Mike was suffering due to it. She was always putting Mike on the line for his decision of trying to enjoy a normal teenage life at times. She played the guilt card with her children and never gave them closure with what happened. However, the letters and videos Mike received had cleared up some of the painful memories that his mother had been holding up this entire time. It was difficult for her to open up with her children due to the painful memories but in the end they managed to move forward with their life.
The book was intriguing from the start and the different style of writing made me unable to put it away. The interesting concept of being able to communicate with someone who had passed on and letting a love one guiding through the character tough times made the book compelling and heart-tugging. The flow was definitely easy to read with well-written and well-thought character made it an added bonus.