Arthur Levine Books; Fall 2009
Overall Grade: A-
Miss Loupe is the new sixth grade teacher at a school just outside a Air Force base in North Carolina; Bo Whaley is the base commander's well-meaning, trouble-making son; Gari Whaley is Bo's cousin whose mother is deployed in the Middle East; the whole sixth grade class is a group of individuals who are waiting for something to turn their lives into something...meaningful. That something may be Miss Loupe's crazy ideas about improv theater and the practice of saying, "Yes, and..."--crazy smart ideas which show a group of disconnected kids how to make their lives and themselves a true piece of art.
Having spent a large part of my own childhood as a "military brat" (Sorry, dad...I know you don't like that term--neither does this book's author, seemingly, so you're in good company...), Operation Yes really resonated with me, and I feel it provides a fascinating look for civilian kids into a virtually untapped setting and group of characters. I did find the initial pacing somewhat slow; it took a while to get to a real "plan" on any character's part. The multiple POV's may have accentuated this; to me, what propelled the story was the relationships, rather than any one character or plot element. On that note, however, the relationships were exceptionally well developed and believable. I loved the way the theme was exposed, and the improv theater stuff--so cool and original.
On a final note, I have to offer my sincere thanks to Ms Holmes for so beautifully representing her character's muddled thoughts regarding war. Long-time followers of this blog know how much it bothers me when an author uses her characters and plot as mere vehicles to forward an agenda; far to the contrary, I think Operation Yes offered a balanced, true presentation of how most kids stuck in the middle of it actually feel about war. Ms Holmes presents the facts, simple as that, followed by her character's reactions to them, and allows her readers to draw their own conclusions. So, thank you!
Literary Quality: A-
Descriptive Ability: A-
Believability of Characters: A+
Believability of Situations: A+
Overall Reading Enjoyment: A-
Possibly objectionable topics*: war-related injury and violence (not directly related, but through dialogue)