Divided We Fall, Book 1

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Divided We Fall, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Provocative military tale asks tough patriotism questions.

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Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Divided We Fall is set in the near future, after the U.S. has been at war with both Iran and Pakistan for a while. Other than the "comms" everyone carries as their digital personal assistants, little in the book is futuristic. The story raises interesting questions about patriotism, personal freedom, and conflicts between states' rights and the U.S. Constitution.

Positive Messages

Divided We Fall emphasizes the importance of loyalty to friends, family, and country. It also demonstrates how those constituencies can be in conflict with one another, with devastating results.

Positive Role Models & Representations

In Divided We Fall, Daniel Wright wants to serve both his state and his country, while keeping his commitments to family, friends, and school. Once he promises to do something, he'll always follow through. Brave and resourceful, he's also impulsive and can't always foresee the results of his actions -- and other characters sometimes pay a high price for his behavior.


As might be expected in a story about military skirmishes between the state of Idaho and the federal government, Divided We Fall has a fair amount of violence. The story opens with a riot in Boise where gunfire breaks out, ending in a dozen fatalities. Once Daniel returns home, various individuals harass him, leading to fistfights, thrown rocks, and Daniel's decision to illegally carry a concealed weapon. A foray into Washington state ends in the shooting deaths of two characters. In general, the book depicts violence realistically and without glamorization; gunshots have real consequences.


Daniel and JoBell obviously have a sexually intimate relationship, but we get no details. One scene ends with them going to bed together. A male character makes aggressively flirtatious comments that stop just short of being offensive.


The language in Divided We Fall is often harsh but fairly realistic given its settings in locker rooms and military missions. "Damn," "hell," "s--t," and "a--hole" are used frequently -- "p---y," "d--k," "bitch," "bastard," and "pissed," less often.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Daniel's adult friend Schmidty seems to be a borderline alcoholic. Daniel and his friends engage in underage drinking in a handful of party scenes. One night, while especially depressed, Daniel drinks vodka and lemonade by himself.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Divided We Fall is a hard-hitting, realistic depiction of what might happen if a state such as Idaho faced off against the federal government. National Guardsman Daniel Wright, the protagonist, is committed to the oaths he's sworn to his state and nation, but his convictions sometimes lead to misery for others. A half-dozen party scenes depict underage drinking, in which Daniel and his girlfriend JoBell participate. The language is rough but realistic, with frequent use of "damn," "hell," "s--t," and "a--hole," and occasional use of "p---y," "d--k," "bitch," "bastard," and "pissed." Daniel and JoBell clearly have a sexually intimate relationship, but the book gives no details. Realistic gun violence plays a big part in the narrative, with characters shot to death in two scenes.

User Reviews

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Kid, 9 years old June 15, 2014

Good book

I would say it's a good book and has a very good message. There is some cussing but not anything major. There is only a little sex and that's a marria... Continue reading

What's the story?

When high-school senior and star football player Daniel Wright enlists in the National Guard, he swears to protect the president of the United States and the governor of Idaho. He doesn't expect to be called upon to carry a weapon into a riot in Boise, which turns out to be a disaster. Back home with his panic attack-prone mother and devoted girlfriend, JoBell, Daniel finds himself in the middle of a deadly skirmish between the state of Idaho and the federal government. Soon, his friends and fellow townspeople are taking sides for and against him. What will he do when the president and the governor both order him to attack the other?

Is it any good?

DIVIDED WE FALL asks tough questions about loyalty and patriotism but refuses to offer any easy answers. It thrusts protagonist Daniel Wright into the middle of an armed conflict, a precarious position made worse by his naivete and impulsiveness. Author Trent Reedy has a strong grip on military procedure, and the battle scenes he depicts are suitably realistic, chaotic, and devoid of false heroics. Engaged readers will enjoy debating whether Daniel makes the right choices and what he might have done to avoid the heartache that befalls him. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can discuss the issue of states' rights versus federal oversight. Why do you think some people favor a strong central government, while others want the states to have more control?

  • How do different media outlets cover news stories in different ways? What's the difference between a slant and a bias?

  • Do you think high school seniors should be eligible to join the National Guard while they're still in school? Why, or why not?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love political intrigue and science fiction

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