November 20

‘Amaryllis’ By Craig Crist-Evans

Amaryllis‘Dear Mr and Mrs Staples, your son, Frank, did not return from a mission in Southeast Asia and is presumed Missing In Action.’ (Quote from the Book Amaryllis).

Amaryllis is the story of the Staples family, specifically the bond shared between Frank and Jimmy. It is set during the Vietnam War, and it is told from the point of view of Jimmy, Frank’s younger brother.

Frank leaves home in events preceding the book. Although Jimmy is disappointed at Frank’s departure, he understands why Frank did what he did. Frank had had problems with his father since a young age, and once he had his 18th birthday, his father was too much for him to live with, so he surprisingly joined the army to ‘escape’ from his life in California. Frank is then shipped off to Vietnam, to take part in a war that he doesn’t believe in.

Throughout this book, the strong bond that Jimmy and Frank share is very prominent, especially in the letters they sent each other after Frank left home. Jimmy misses Frank greatly, as when he was back home they spent a lot of time together, especially surfing, Without Frank at home, Jimmy feels burdened with having to deal with his father all by himself.

Frank and Jimmy were always the best of mates growing up together, but due to their father’s behaviour Frank is driven out of the home he grew up in. Once he leaves home, He and Frank keep in touch through letters, and these letters depict what Frank is going through in Vietnam. These letters from Frank often are not positive, and quite often he tells Frank of the horrors of war, or the drug problem he is suffering from.

“I remembered how the salt water dried in my hair, how the wet suit felt like a second skin against my body. I remembered everything Jimmy, but all I could think about was the smack in my pocket.”

Whilst all of this is going on in Vietnam, Jimmy is also struggling to deal with life with his alcoholic father back in California.

This book was such an interesting read for me because throughout the entire book I was drawn in to Frank’s depiction of the war. Throughout the book I felt enthralled by the letters, and it encouraged me to keep reading to find out what would happen to Frank.

I would recommend this book to any teenager, as it has some coarse language and drug references, but it appeals to those of that age when reading about the struggles of Jimmy, of whatever type they may be.

By Daniel D., Year 9

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Posted November 20, 2014 by marjk in category Guys Read, Realistic fiction, Student Reviews, War stories

About the Author

Teacher-librarian at Aquinas College, Southport, Gold Coast, Australia

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