Lost Boys
Lost Boys

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Annotation: In 1982, twelve-year-old Reza is pressured to join Iran's war effort, assured that he will see paradise if he dies in battle. Instead, he finds himself in a brutal Iraqi POW camp, where he struggles to survive and find his own path.
Catalog Number: #138124
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 279 pages
Availability: Special Order Only - Contact Customer Service at +1 800 637-6581 or +1 217 243-5451
ISBN: Publisher: 1-627-79758-0 Perma-Bound: 0-605-97048-3
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-627-79758-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-97048-9
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2016038379
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
During the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, Iranian boys as young as 12 were conscripted to fight in the military. Two such boys are Reza and his best friend Ebi. Thinking they are embarking on a grand adventure, the two boys are swiftly disabused of this notion when, en route to their first camp, they pass mounds of dead bodies. Worse, when they are subsequently sent into action, they realize they are meant to be nothing but cannon fodder. Barely surviving a land mine explosion, Reza is captured and remanded to an Iraqi prisoner of war camp, where he has the misfortune of making an enemy of a sadistic guard who threatens to torture and kill him. How can he survive? Could Miles, an Irish aid worker who has befriended him, help? Rosenblatt's debut is fiction, but rooted in fact: the plight of "lost boy soldiers" was all too real. Thanks to careful research and a well-written narrative, Rosenblatt brings their stories to vivid and memorable life. The lost boys, at least here, are found.
Horn Book
In 1982, Iranian twelve-year-old Reza joins the fight against Iraq. Wounded and taken to a prison camp, Reza's life is brightened only by the reappearance of his friend and by an Irish aid worker who helps rekindle Reza's interest in music. The compelling story would benefit from more background about Islam and Iranian-Iraqi political histories. A brief author's note is appended.
Kirkus Reviews
In Rosenblatt's ambitious debut novel, Reza, a 12-year-old Iranian boy, clings to friendship and his love of music as the Iran-Iraq War tears his world apart.Reza's father has died in the war, and Reza's mother, who follows the Great Leader without thinking, would be proud if he suffered the same fate. At school, a mullah comes to recruit boys, enticing them with the promise of riches and beautiful women in the afterlife if they die in the war. When tragedy strikes his family again, taking the life of his only supportive relative, Reza decides to follow his best friend and enlist. After a horrifying battle scene, Reza ends up in a prisoner-of-war camp, where he befriends boys who have abandoned faith in the war and in Islam, as he has, and clashes with the judgmental bully who remains pro-revolution and continues practicing Islam. The characterization of Muslims tends to conflate religious faith with violence, sympathetic characters rejecting both while most evil characters embrace both. The notable exception to this rule dies early in the story; although Reza returns to Islam toward the end, it is too late to counteract this simplistic tendency. The Irish foreign-aid worker who teaches at the camp is the most well-developed secondary character, perhaps not surprising, since the author's main source consists of an aid worker's accounts. Absent from the source notes are written accounts by Iranians who lived through the war, which may have helped breathe life into the Iranian characters as well. Reza's story is compelling, but the simplistic depiction of secondary characters as good Muslims and bad Muslims turns a complicated historical subject into a setting that reinforces stereotypes many Westerners hold. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 11-14)
Publishers Weekly
This hard-hitting first novel opens in Iran in 1982 during the Ayatollah Khomeini-s oppressive rule and that nation-s war with Iraq. Rosenblatt thrusts her sensitive, music-loving narrator, Reza, into immediate danger as the 12-year-old-s widowed mother pushes him to join the fight, viewing it as an honor if he were to die a martyr. When his best friend Ebi enlists, Reza follows, and after slipshod training, the gruesome reality of their role emerges as officers tie dozens of the teenage boys together and send them into a minefield: -We were legs and arms they didn-t mind losing. We were here to die.- Rosenblatt counterbalances cruelty with strong relationships, especially among the boys in the Iraqi POW camp Reza ends up, as well as with a charismatic teacher and aid worker who nurtures his love of music. The larger political context becomes personal when a devastating public rejection of Reza and his fellow survivors by Iran leaves the boys without a country. Though the conclusion may stretch belief, the resilience of Rosenblatt-s protagonist strikes a strong chord. Ages 9-12. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. (Aug.)

School Library Journal
Gr 8 UpThe year is 1982, and Iran is at war with neighboring Iraq. Twelve-year-old Reza has no desire to fight; he loves music and would rather play the piano and listen to the contraband Western songs supplied by his beloved uncle Habib. But he rethinks his plans when his uncle is killed, his best friend Ebi decides to enlist, and his mother tells him she wants him to fight and honor their family even if he dies. Reza and Ebi join the Iranian army, and then, in a horrific scene, their cohort of child soldiers are sent across a minefield to set off the mines with their expendable small bodies. The rest of the story follows Reza's time in an Iraqi prisoner-of-war camp among the other "lost boys" of the book's title. Reza's adolescent rebellion, passion for music, and loyalty to his friends make him an appealing protagonist, and the constant dangers threatening him create a compelling read. Secondary characters demonstrate the complexity of attitudes and loyalties during the Iran-Iraq conflict: the unseen Iranian army leaders send their own country's children to be mangled, while an Iraqi guard helps Reza escape sure death at the prisoner-of-war camp. Historically accurate violence and occasional swearing and sexual references, all appropriate to the subject of the book, make this selection best suited for older middle school and high school readers. VERDICT A powerful look at a tragic period in history that belongs in most YA collections.Beth Wright Redford, Richmond Elementary School Library, VT
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (5/1/17)
Horn Book (8/1/18)
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (6/1/17)
Word Count: 56,486
Reading Level: 4.4
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.4 / points: 8.0 / quiz: 196242 / grade: Middle Grades
Lexile: HL640L

Set in 1982, this gripping debut tells the unforgettable story of a child soldier swept up in the Iran-Iraq War--and the gift that helps him survive.

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