Book Review: Operation Oleander

Book Review: Operation OleanderOperation Oleander by Valerie O. Patterson
on March 5th 2013
Pages: 192

Ninth-grader Jess Westmark had the best of intentions when she started Operation Oleander to raise money for a girls’ orphanage in Kabul. She named her charity for the oleander that grows both in her Florida hometown and in Afghanistan, where her father is deployed. But on one of her father's trips to deliver supplies to the orphans, a car bomb explodes nearby and her father is gravely injured. Worse, her best friend’s mother and some of the children are killed, and people are blaming Operation Oleander for turning the orphanage into a military target for the Taliban. Is this all Jess’s fault?

Jess is a teen who lives on a military base, her father is in Afghanistan and she is trying to do her part by gathering donations for a nearby orphanage that her father is stationed near. Unfortunately it is on one of those visits, that the group of soldiers is attacked, leaving her best friend motherless and her own father in a hospital. Jess starts to question whether this is her fault and tries to keep up her project, only to be forced to shut it down as the base grieves.

I enjoyed this book because it is so close to our hearts what our troops are doing and have done in Afghanistan. It was a tough book to get through at times, with the emotions running high at all times. Jess is not the only one who feels she is to blame and she needs to find a way to reconcile with her best friend. Jess had the strength and willingness to keep going forward with Operation Oleander even though she was not able to and I admired her character for that.

Patterson did a great job of creating connections between characters and the situation and it played out in a way that tore at the reader's heart. I definitely felt that this story is one that can be easily connected with, especially for families that have a loved one in Afghanistan.

Final Verdict: Overall, an outstanding book that explored a war our country is still fighting and the people who are affected by it. Well written and with strong and realistic characters, I could not put this one down.

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3 responses to “Book Review: Operation Oleander

  1. Elizabeth (The Back-Porch Reader)

    I haven’t even heard of Operation Oleander until now, but it sounds interesting. Great review and I’ll have to look into checking this one out further.

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