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Read + Review: Second in Command by Sandi Van


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This book is about a military family who lives in a military town. It describes the events following the mother’s six-month deployment to an aircraft carrier in the middle of a potential military conflict. It describes the efforts of this family taking care of each other while missing a piece of their lives, their mother. The main character is Leo, a 16-year-old boy. His mother appoints him the second in command right before she leaves for her deployment. He takes this job seriously by helping his dad to take care of his 13-year-old brother and 6-year-old sister. His dad works all the time, his brother is falling behind at school and mixes with the wrong crowd, and his sister is having nightmares and missing her mom. As brave and responsible as he is, Leo is struggling with the responsibility that was put on him at such a young age. He is torn between keeping his promise to have his brother’s back and doing the right thing. Will he find a way to do both?

This book is written in an interesting style, it looks like a poem that does not rhyme. It is written as if it was a diary of the main character; a sort of compilation of his thoughts, a glimpse of his reality from his own point of view. It reads very easily and it is interesting how the author covers a lot of complex topics like acceptance of diversity, family values, friendship and love. I like how Leo’s friend Zen teaches him to breathe when stressed, which I personally find helpful.

I find the most memorable thing about this book was the family’s concern for their mother’s safety. They worked through the day and prayed she would come home alive. Makes me think how fortune I am to have my whole family together.


Reviewed by Preston M., Twin Hickory Library

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