Going Places, by Kathryn Berla | Book Review
The Children’s Book Review | July 18, 2019
Written by Kathryn Berla
Age Range: 13- 18 years
Paperback: 275 pages
Publisher: Amberjack Publishing (March 20, 2018)
What to expect: Coming-of-age; Friendship; Military Families; Mystery; Intergenerational Connections
People could tell from a young age that Hudson Wheeler was going places. However, when Hudson was ten, his dad was killed on the battlefield in Iraq. After that, he gradually lost confidence and became less interested in school. By his senior year, he has decided that college is not for him. His plans for the year include making money without working too much, writing a graphic novel, and improving his (basically non-existent) track record with the opposite sex. He decides that homeschooling is the easiest path to graduation, and his mom reluctantly agrees, except that she makes him take PE and AP Art at the high school so that he will still have some degree of social interaction and physical activity. To maximize his chances of meeting his first girlfriend, Hudson chooses a yoga class where he indeed discovers a beautiful girl. Unfortunately, his new crush happens to be head-over-heels in love with another guy, so Hudson seems relegated to be “just friends,” despite his blind infatuation.
Hudson also has a couple of business ventures in the works. “Distress Dial” is a service for elderly clients occasionally in need of urgent help that does not rise to the level of a 911 emergency. He collects a monthly fee and hopes not to be called too often or at odd hours. Wishful thinking? Absolutely. One of Hudson’s clients is a lonely 90-year-old WWII veteran whose age and traumatic past seem to be taking a toll on his mental health. In the process of responding to his client’s increasingly frequent and sometimes troubling calls, Hudson develops an even stronger desire to help the veteran process the pain of his past and the challenges of his present. Hudson also becomes close friends with the striking, athletic girl who lives across the street from the vet and who eventually agrees to help. As they piece together the mystery of the soldier’s past and sort out their own plans for the future, Hudson experiences the true value of meaningful relationships. This loyal, dependable girl and the initially imposing war hero even teach him a few things about romance.
In this modern coming-of-age story, Kathryn Berla has successfully created appealing characters whose paths cross in unique and compelling ways. Though Hudson starts his senior year without much traditional ambition, he ultimately learns that he can stop living under the crippling weight of others’ expectations. Young adult readers will quickly and easily connect with his challenging circumstances, imperfect relationships and social awkwardness. They will also celebrate as Hudson finally decides that he is indeed “going places.” They may well be inspired to do likewise.
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About the Author
Going Places, by Kathryn Berla, was reviewed by Amy Aiken. Discover more books like Going Places by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Coming Of Age, Friendship, Military Families, and Young Adult Fiction.
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