Now imagine those two falling for each other despite their prejudices for each other's people...yea.
I applaud Beth Fred for a unique idea well done. Throughout the story, we're reminded in subtle ways how quick and how wrong we are to judge others based on where they come from, what they wear, how they look.
I also appreciated the theme about how just because we see it on TV, we are not experts on another group of people/culture.
Mirriam hates American soldiers. At first, Caleb hates Iraqis. He wants to enlist, head over there, and take revenge for his father's death, but he has to realize not all Iraqis are bad or terrorists.
Mirriam sort of comes across as a female dog. She's rude and abrasive, but at the same time I shook my head at her, my lips would also turn up at the corners. Caleb, I had a harder time coming to like. He's the typical jock in the beginning--a playboy who expects women to fall at his feet and a douche who agrees to play with girls' hearts for the sake of a bet...but then fate changes his life real fast and it was interesting watching him change his perspective and attitude as the carpet got pulled out from under him.
One of my quibbles is the car scene. It was weak. I'm purposely trying to be vague here as I'm not sure if this scene would be considered a spoiler or not. It comes perhaps halfway into the book. But the lack of details about the medical affliction....is something broken? Did they do any surgery? Did he just lay there in a bed for 35 minutes? What exactly is wrong here? The author obviously did her research about the military, so I wonder why so little was done for the medical aspect/hospital stuff. Throughout the novel, I kept wondering what exactly was wrong with the guy. I'm a stickler for details such as that.
My other quibble is...I was disappointed that in the end, it didn't feel like Mirriam had come to respect any American soldiers. She was still very anti-American and as a military wife, this bothered me. I respect that there is indeed some truth in this:
"...at the end of the day, they're both kids our age with weaponry supplied by some old rich fat man with a belief that what they're doing is right."
But Mirriam's total lack of sympathy for the American soldier...made her no better than the kids calling her a raghead. Not all Iraqis are bad and while there will be some bad apples in the military, not all soldiers are bad either. While Caleb's character evolved to show this, Mirriam's didn't.
Third, I'm pretty sure it's illegal to marry off a 17-year-old, even in Texas. I thought that was pretty drastic. I'm sure a call to social services would have fixed that, though the ending wouldn't have been as dramatic. LOL
But overall, this was very well written and thought evoking. I enjoyed it and appreciated this very unique story line and situations. It's a YA novel that actually makes you think for a change.