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Badd by Tim Tharp


by Tim Tharp

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Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com

Ceejay has always been close to her older brother. It's been them against the rest of the world, or at least the rest of their family. Unfortunately, when Bobby's mischievous ways lead to the point of a joyride in a stolen car, a choice must be made. Their parents chose the military over jail for their errant son.

With the exception of leave time, it's been years since Ceejay and Bobby have been together. He is expected home soon, and Ceejay can't wait to pick up where they left off. Surely after returning from Iraq, Bobby will be ready to party and enjoy his time with now sixteen-year-old Ceejay.

The summer starts with Ceejay's parents announcing that she will be working for her Uncle Jimmy. She'll be slapping paint on whatever project he assigns, but that's better than the job her little sister, Lacy, gets. Lacy will be living with their grandmother several hours away. She'll be taking care of the ungrateful woman while she undergoes chemotherapy. At least, while working for Uncle Jimmy, Ceejay will be at home and able to hang out with Bobby when he gets back.

Ceejay is shocked when she sees someone that looks like Bobby cruising by with an old flame. It takes some investigation, but she learns that he has returned from Iraq early but hasn't seen fit to show up and greet his family. When Ceejay discovers where he is staying, she confronts him and discovers that something about him has changed.

Bobby's first meeting with family is filled with tension, and a BBQ party planned in his honor turns to chaos when he announces that he was asked to leave the military and earned only a general discharge. Ceejay doesn't care about that. She is just frustrated that he is choosing to hang out and live with Captain Crazy, an old Vietnam protester who lives on a nearby, rundown farm. When a friend suggests that Bobby may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Ceejay is quick to defend her brother and deny the possibility, but as time passes, she realizes there might be some truth to the suggestion.

Tim Tharp, author of THE SPECTACULAR NOW, has used his unique talent to create a novel focused on a topic becoming increasingly more common as our soldiers return from war in the Middle East. Families like Ceejay's are facing the return of sons and daughters who aren't the sons and daughters they remember. By including the Vietnam issue, Tharp lets his young readers know this is not the first war to have a profound effect on soldiers and the families left behind. I appreciated the depth of character development and the depiction of the varied emotional impact caused by Bobby's return, as well as the other problems faced by this typical American family. ( )
  GeniusJen | Aug 5, 2011 |
Basically, Badd is about Ceejay's and Bobby's journeys of self-discovery. Bobby is scarred by what he witnessed in Iraq and elsewhere; Ceejay's facing the changes in her brother and corresponding changes in her perception of what makes a person truly "badd." There are several emotional scenes: Mrs. McDermott's mother, who has always been the "enemy" of Ceejay and Bobby, has terminal cancer; Bobby eventually tells all about his experiences in the war. There are funny parts, too. The siblings fall in with the appropriately-named Captain Crazy, try to build an aero-velocipede, spring a guy out of a prison-like nursing home in the dead of night...

It took me a while to get into Badd. At the beginning, I really did not like most of the characters, who seemed to enjoy a lot of drugs, sex, and alcohol (with the exception of Ceejay, who manages to stay clean while the rest of her friends party). As the story started moving along more, however, it became more enjoyable and the characters, especially Ceejay and Bobby, were much more likeable. Was it worth reading? Yes. Will I re-read it? Most likely not. ( )
  SusieBookworm | Feb 14, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 037586444X, Hardcover)

Ceejay has never been pretty or popular, but she knows who she is: she's younger sister to Bobby, the most charming bad boy in town. Bobby's a bit wild, but with his big heart and sense of fun, everybody loves him. And nobody understands Ceejay like Bobby.

Now, Ceejay can't wait for Bobby to return home from his tour in Iraq. But then he turns up unannounced and seems to be avoiding his family. And he's so different. His wild streak has become reckless. His sense of fun has become desperate. And seeing this, Ceejay's own tough shell begins to crack. How can she believe in being strong when her hero is broken?

As she tries to get Bobby back, Ceejay begins to reexamine her family, her community, and everyone in her life. What she finds is that true strength is not quite what she thought it was.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:32 -0400)

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A teenaged girl's beloved brother returns home from the Iraq War completely unlike the person she remembers.

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