'The God of War' beautifully written


  Ares Ramirez, 12, lives with his mother, Laurel, and his younger brother, Malcolm, who suffers from a mental disability much like autism.
  It’s 1978, and the small family resides in a trailer near the Salton Sea in Southern California. While Laurel works, it falls to Ares to take care of Malcolm. For all his life Ares has blamed himself for his brother’s handicap, so he willingly takes responsibility for Malcolm — out of guilt and love — but also boils with resentment and frustration as he reaches for independence.
  I felt trapped between a life I had once enjoyed and one that felt miserable and lonely and bitter. I remembered watching old war movies where the two sides marched toward each other in long lines until they reached some invisible dividing marker, at which point orders were given and guns were fired. I had not understood how a soldier could be made to walk into such certain death, but now I understood the lethal combination of anger and humiliation and fear that could make a person head toward oblivion.
  As Laurel’s life becomes more chaotic, Ares takes on more responsibility. He begins taking Malcolm for therapy sessions at the house of the school librarian, and it’s through her that he meets 15-year-old Kevin, the librarian’s foster son. Kevin, just out of juvie, is angry and wild. Ares admires Kevin’s rebelliousness and independence, but at the same time is afraid of the teen’s violent mood swings. Their relationship ultimately results in a confrontation that could have life-shattering consequences for Malcolm and Ares.
  Marisa Silver’s “The God of War” is beautifully written. She compassionately and realistically portrays Ares’ love and hate for his brother, weaving metaphors and similes throughout the text to paint an artful portrait of a young boy’s turmoil.
  Just once, I would have liked him to look at me like he really knew who I was. When we were together, it was all I could do to convince myself that I existed for him at all and that I was not just some innocuous presence like air or heat. I thought about how he must experience life as a smashed mirror, a collection of fractured pieces that never fit together to make a perfect whole. There was this, and that, and the other thing, and all the separate shards didn’t really have anything to do with one another not even the central fact that they were in my brother’s brain. How could a person live that way? ... How could he survive except by having someone like me or my mother there to assert that he existed at all, even if it was just to say his name?
  “The God of War,” now out in paperback, is a wonderfully touching story of a boy willing to sacrifice everything for his brother while at the same time struggling to grab hold of something for himself. The book is an excellent example of the power of good writing.