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Kitchen Table Reviews: Operation Yes

This story of of community and hope gets three enthusiastic thumbs up.

By Mir Kamin | October 16 , 2009
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<i>Operation Yes</i> By Sara Lewis Holmes
Operation Yes By Sara Lewis Holmes

I had no idea what Operation Yes was about when I picked it up, but the inside book jacket detailed a little bit of Plan A, Plan B, and then Plan C for our main characters, Bo and Gari, 6th graders at a dilapidated school on an Air Force base.

This book turned out to be an unexpected delight, from Plan A all the way to Plan Z.

Me: Normally I would let you two go first, but I just have to say that I loved this book so much; I think it may be my favorite for the entire year, so far. I loved the characters. I loved the story. I thought it was sharp and funny and touching and perfect.

Son: I really liked it, too.

Daughter: Me too, but I’m wondering why you like it so much. What was special about this one, to you?

Me: Well, let me ask your brother something, first, and then I’ll answer you. Was this book too hard for you?

Son: No.

Me: Did you feel like it was for kids older than you?

Son: Nope, it was great for me.

Me: Okay, that is a huge part of why I loved this. He’s nine, and this book was perfectly age-appropriate for him. But I didn’t feel like “ho hum, I’m reading a kids’ book” while I read it. It reads, to me, like the way a lot of novels for adults read. There’s bits of story that wend their way in and out and it all comes together. Plus the ending feels good, but it’s not all “and they lived happily ever after.” I just thought it was incredibly smart and well-done.

Daughter: Like, places where it goes, “This was happening here… and meanwhile, this thing was happening here… and over there, this was happening,” stuff like that?

Me: Yes. Did you like that?

Daughter: Yeah, that was pretty cool.

Son: I liked Bo. He was funny. And Ms. Loupe! Really, I liked it all.

Daughter: I liked Gari; she was my favorite. And the Ugly, Ugly Couch.

Me: Do you think that only kids in military families would like this, given that it deals with a lot of military stuff?

Daughter: No, because we all liked it.

Son: But I bet they would really like it a lot, and for us it kind of shows us what it’s maybe like for them.

Me: What’s this whole “say yes, and…” thing about?

Son: It’s about them learning theater!

Daughter: But not just that. It’s about them learning to cope with whatever life gives them. You’re right, it feels real. It’s hard, and bad stuff happens, but they find a way to make it good.

Me: Exactly.

Pros: Complex but not complicated; written like an adult novel, but for junior readers. Timely and relatable for military families and eye-opening for us civilians. Uplifting without being trite or sappy.

Cons: War is a tough (and scary) topic. Both protagonists sometimes behave badly. Bad things happen to good people.

Operation Yes gets three thumbs way up, from our headquarters at the kitchen table.

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