Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Divided we fall

Divided we fall

Trent Reedy
Fiction  Series
For ages 14 and up
Scholastic, 2014   ISBN: 978-0545543675

Eager to honor his soldier father who died serving in the US Army in Iran, seventeen year old Daniel Wright became a member of the Idaho National Guard. He spent much of his summer in basic training but is now back in school, playing football on the school team and spending time with his friends and girlfriend. Daniel knows has plans for his future and he is full of hope and optimism.

As he goes about his day Daniel hears the news about how upset some people are about the new Federal Identification Card Act. When the act becomes the law of the land, all American citizens will have to carry the card, which will not only contain information about them but the card will also contain a chip that can be used to track the person carrying the card. Many people hate the idea that the government could use the cards to keep tabs on them, and riots are breaking out in many parts of the country, including in Boise.

The situation in Boise escalates until an untenable situation arises around the capitol building. Daniel’s National Guard company is mobilized because all the skilled National Guardsmen are fighting in Iran. Daniel has only participated in training mission so he has no experience with a real world problem like a riot. He is told that he and his fellow guardsmen will be there to support the local police who are trying to contain the riots. All they the guardsmen to do is block a road. What happens instead is that Daniel and his friends are presented with a very volatile situation. When a stone is thrown at him Daniel accidentally fires his gun and a fire fight breaks out. Several rioters are killed.

Governor James Montaine promises that he will not hand Daniel and the members of his squad to the Federal Government. As far as he is concerned they were doing their job per his request and that is all there is to it.

Unfortunately, the governor has already antagonized the President of the United States by refusing to support the Federal Identification Act, and when he refuses to hand over his National Guardsmen, the president decides that the governor and his state need to be punished. He sends troops to the Idaho border, and in response Idaho’s National Guardsmen are deployed to defend Idaho’s territory. When “federals” try to take the governor into custody they are sent packing.

For a while no one knows that Daniel was the first shooter, but eventually the news gets out and Daniel’s life, which is already a mess because of the crisis, takes a noticeable downturn. He is mobbed by the press, and federals even attempt to take him into custody. The standoff between the federal government and the state of Idaho gets more and more heated. Daniel has no idea what to do. He has sworn to protect Idaho and the United States of America. Now he is being forced to choose one side or the other.

In this skillfully crafted book the narrative is supplemented by emails, text messages, and radio addresses so that readers are able to appreciate the many opinions and points of view that people have regarding the crisis in the story. The America in the story is not that different from the one that we live in today, though many more Americans are unemployed and the economy is struggling. It is therefore not hard to see how domestic a crisis of this kind could develop. Readers will be carried along by the energy and tension in the story, and they will be appalled when they see how Daniel and his friends get caught up by a man-made disaster that they cannot control or avoid.

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