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Anthem
2019
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Summary
From two-time National Book Award finalist Deborah Wiles, the remarkable story of two cousins who must take a road trip across American in 1969 in order to let a teen know he's been drafted to fight in Vietnam. Full of photos, music, and figures of the time, this is the masterful story of what it's like to be young and American in troubled times.

It's 1969.

Molly is a girl who's not sure she can feel anything anymore, because life sometimes hurts way too much. Her brother Barry ran away after having a fight with their father over the war in Vietnam. Now Barry's been drafted into that war - and Molly's mother tells her she has to travel across the country in an old schoolbus to find Barry and bring him home.

Norman is Molly's slightly older cousin, who drives the old schoolbus. He's a drummer who wants to find his own music out in the world - because then he might not be the "normal Norman" that he fears he's become. He's not sure about this trip across the country . . . but his own mother makes it clear he doesn't have a choice.

Molly and Norman get on the bus - and end up seeing a lot more of America that they'd ever imagined. From protests and parades to roaring races and rock n' roll, the cousins make their way to Barry in San Francisco, not really knowing what they'll find when they get there.

As she did in her other epic novels Countdown and Revolution, two-time National Book Award finalist Deborah Wiles takes the pulse of an era . . . and finds the multitude of heartbeats that lie beneath it.
Trade Reviews
School Library Journal Review
Gr 5--8--This third volume of Wiles's "Sixties Trilogy" evokes the conflicts, chaos, and deep emotions occurring in 1969 during the United States' controversial involvement in the Vietnam War. A fictional story follows Molly, 14, and Norman, 17, two cousins driving across the country in a school bus from Charleston, SC, to San Francisco to bring back Molly's brother Barry, who ran away to escape the draft. A wide-ranging collection of primary source documents--photographs, quotes, newspaper articles--help readers understand the historical context with its complex voices. The result is a "documentary novel" of great impact. Over time, Molly and Norman grow as they encounter people with different experiences and viewpoints--an army deserter, an interracial couple, a gay couple who are war veterans--and integrate these experiences into their worldview. They see black people and white people eating together, come across people living in a commune, and meet a variety of people from the music world. Molly learns to think more deeply about racial relations. Norman develops greater self-confidence and the ability to judge character. Their bond deepens as they mature. Music pervades the narrative, mirroring how it (according to the author's note) "saturated, permeated, buoyed, and informed Everything." VERDICT This is a book that takes root in readers' mind and stays there. A gripping read with a satisfying conclusion.--Myra Zarnowski, City University of New York
Booklist Review
It's July 2, 1969, a year since 14-year-old Molly's beloved older brother Barry following an altercation with his father over the Vietnam War left their South Carolina home without a word. Now an official draft notice has arrived for him, and Molly is sent with her 17-year-old cousin, Norman, to find Barry and bring him home. So off the two go in Norman's old school bus on a quixotic quest to locate the missing Barry. Along the way, they have many adventures, a number involving music, about which Wiles writes beautifully and knowledgeably, for Norman is a drummer with hopes of starting a band. To his delight, they visit recording studios and meet the likes of Duane Allman and (gasp!) Elvis Presley. They pick up a stray dog and their share of human strays as well, including a young ex-soldier who appears to be suffering from PTSD. Their travels vividly paint a portrait of a country divided by war and knit together by music. Wiles, in this third volume of her Sixties Trilogy (Countdown, 2010; Revolution, 2014), intersperses the narrative with portfolios of contextual period photos, headlines, quotations, and more. The result is a brilliant exercise in verisimilitude. It's all complicated, of course, but the novel is wonderfully true to the reality and spirit of the time.--Michael Cart Copyright 2010 Booklist
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