Red Deer Press (2012)
Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views (6/13)
Jason is a 9 year old boy who lives with his mother and younger sister. His abusive father is now out of the picture. Jason often has emotional and angry outbursts. When his mother feels she can no longer handle him, she arranges to send him to a group home for boys to learn new ways to deal with his anger. Naturally, Jason does not understand why he is being sent away and wonders if his mom loves him anymore. His only goal is to get out of there as quickly as possible. But until he is capable of behaving in appropriate manners, he must live away from his family.
This work of fiction is told as a first person narrative. Jason's thoughts about his new surroundings and the people with whom he now resides are realistically portrayed. Experiencing Jason's hopes, as well as his fears, through his eyes helps the reader to establish a connection with him. Hearing him finally pour out his heart and talk about what was really troubling him was so touching I just wanted to hug him. Seeing him adapt to living with new kids and adults and watching him learn important lessons about honesty, self-discipline, and respecting other people provided additional heartfelt moments for me.
"Jason's Why" is appropriate for an audience of 8 to 12 year old children, especially so for those with behavioral issues. The book is only 72 pages in length, so even those who do not like to read should have no trouble finishing it. There are several good lessons for kids contained in the story. It shows that people can get out of bad or destructive situations through the caring and guidance of others. It also focuses on the importance of consistency, knowing what to expect and what is expected of them. Teaching children to talk openly about their feelings instead of keeping them bottled up until they eventually erupt is probably the biggest lesson of all.
Author Beth Goobie has written a number of books for young readers. While I have not read any of the others, if they are as good as "Jason's Why" in content or context, they should be incorporated into elementary school reading programs.