Publication: January 2, 2007, by Puffin
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Fifteen-year-old Ian must complete community volunteer service to pass social studies. Choosing to work at “The Club” sounds like fun, until he arrives at what turns out to be a soup kitchen for the homeless. It is here that he meets Sarge, the pipe-wielding homeless man who saved Ian from a near-mugging. His real name is Jacques, and he was a soldier in the Canadian Armed Forces. His last tour of duty was as a peacekeeper stationed in Rwanda, an African nation Ian knows little about. What he learns will change Ian’s view of the world—and may just help Jacques, too. With a Foreword by Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire (Ret’d), force commander for the United Nations Mission to Rwanda, Shattered is an unforgettable story, one that asks what one person can do to make a difference.
My English teacher seriously rocks. Without her, this novel would've never in a million years hit my heart. Eric Walters is a Canadian author whose books I've actually heard of quite frequently where I actually gave them a chance. Genocide was the only word slash subject that described this novel what I prejudged and had heard of before, and I'm honestly so surprised with the outcome.
This isn't a middle grade novel. Don't expect it to be. Walters will give you the view of a total different lifestyle where everything that happens is real and you feel Ian's hope to change himself as a person. It's unbelievable to look at the way I actually ended up loving this book, as I never saw it coming. I guess prejudice is a huge thing in this world at the moment when it comes to judging a book beforehand, hm?
The storyline follows what you kind of expect it to and not at the same time. Here, we have Ian Blackburn, who is a rich fifteen year old getting forced to do community hours for his tenth grade Civics class. He decides to volunteer at a soup kitchen called, "The Club." On his way there, he meets Sarge, a man who saves him from getting mugged. Little does he know that Sarge will actually save his life and he will do the same for him vice versa...
I'm not saying anything people, as this is a book FULL of amazing things. Your mind will be blown and you'll be unable to think and I'm not going to spoil anything, anything at all since there are tons of plot twists that are so unspeakable of that you never saw them coming. Keep in mind that "Sarge" will keep on changing his name as well, just to catch to the chase and since Walters wants to give him some sort of secret identity to make it look like he's not who we all think he is.
First of all, let me just say that the writing Walters portrays throughout this whole standalone novel is impeccable compared to any other book I've had to read for school. Usually, books that are read in school are seemed to be meant to bore students (at least, that's what it looks like) but have tons of symbolism and a strong message to gain people's thinking all throughout. This wasn't boring, nor was it a tough book to read. In fact, as we are reading Lord of the Flies at the same time, this seemed like a piece of cake to understand, and I fell in love with this fictional world right away.
“You got a smoke to spare?” (4) was the question that began this story and started an intimacy that every reader will feel connected to by understanding the situations that the characters have to deal with. No, really, this is what began the most intense character relationship that I've read of in a while. To be honest, you saw that there was a wide chance for Sarge and Ian to become friends. Of course, fate somehow made them be in each other's lives. The both need help as they both have their own personal conflicts that are sure to break and shatter some of the happiness that they've ever known, but together, all of those pieces are surely bound to heal from each other's remedies. You see, Sarge has PTSD and is an alcoholic. He has witnessed the genocide in Rwanda as he had been a peacekeeper there, and he's scarred for life, feeling that he didn't do enough to help the people there. But Ian knows that it's not his fault, and there was surely nothing else he could've done in his job and in his own situation. But Sarge hadn't realized that until Ian brought it up, and he helped him.
Ian had his own personal conflicts too, no? You see, Walters created a world that made the rich and the poor, or the poverty and the wealth bond. The conflict between the two "cases" got closer and closer as Sarge and Ian made more of an attraction, and in the end, everything popped and you never saw the difference between the two. Ian felt embarrassed of his wealth and made sure to keep a low profile and look "poor." This is modern day, people, and Walters made the whole setting look like it, where everyone is following what the trend is.
This book can absolutely bring out a discussion about the homeless and through many subjects: altruism, family relationships, violence and injustice, optimism, the list seriously goes on and on. I obviously won't go through this all as it's eventually your turn to read this and become obsessed with the fact that your life is bound TO BEGIN when reading this book. So really, go ahead and become obsessed, pick up your first Eric Walters book and soak all of the realism in, without any teeny-bopper romance or cheesiness. This is reality.