YA Sam, 17, is obsessed with the Vietnam War and the effect it has had on her lifelosing a father she never knew and now living with Uncle Emmett, who seems to be suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. In her own forthright way, she tries to sort out why and how Vietnam has altered the lives of the vets of Hopewell, Kentucky. Her untempered curiosity and imagination sprint off in all directions as she examines closely the often undiscussed, but always noticed, aspects of daily life. In this coming-of-age novel, Sam ponders many problems, among them Emmett's crusty, salve-covered pimples, veteran Tom's inability to have an erection and her good friend Dawn's pregnancy. Although Sam lives in a disheveled, tawdry house, she brings a freshness of spirit to the way she scrutinizes and revels in life. When she wants to understand living conditions in the Vietnam jungles, she decides she has to experience it, so spends the night beside a local swamp. A harshly realistic, well-written look at the Vietnam War as well as the story of a young woman maturing. Pam Spencer, Mount Vernon High School Library, Fairfax, Va.
Sam Hughes, whose father was killed in Vietnam, lives in rural Kentucky with her uncle Emmett, a veteran whom she suspects is suffering from exposure to Agent Orange. Sam is a typical teenager, trying to choose a college, anticipating a new job at the local Burger Boy, sharing intimacies with her friend Dawn, breaking up with her high school boyfriend, and dealing with her feelings for Tom, one of Emmett's buddies. Sam feels that her life is bound to the war in Vietnam and becomes obsessed with the idea because of the reluctance of her family and Tom to talk about it. Her father's diary finally provides the insight she seeksinsight she cannot accept until she has visited the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. In Country is both a powerful and touching novel of America that analyzes the impact of the 1960s on the culture of the 1980s and a beautiful portrayal of an often forgotten area of the country. Essential for adult and YA collections. Thomas L. Kilpatrick, Southern Illinois Univ. at Carbondale Lib.