Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am Book Poster Image
Intimate, intense tale of soldier healing from brain injury.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

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

Educational Value

Somebody, Please Tell Me... does an admirable job of depicting the rehabilitation of a soldier with a traumatic brain injury. The authors present Ben's recovery with all of its big frustrations and small triumphs, focusing on both his internal world and on how his condition affects his family and close friends.

Positive Messages

The novel downplays the political issues surrounding the war in Iraq to focus on the personal struggle of one soldier with a catastrophic brain injury. As Ben Bright works to rebuild his memory and his identity, his family and friends must make their own difficult adjustments to caring for someone so seriously wounded. None of them behaves admirably 100 percent of the time, but their obvious love for Ben and one another other allows the healing process to proceed more smoothly than it would have otherwise.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters in Somebody, Please Tell Me... are all good people thrust into a traumatic and bewildering situation. They all struggle, sometimes succeed, but often come up short. What remains constant is their love for Ben.


Somebody, Please Tell Me... features one major scene of violence, the one in which Ben Bright is on patrol in Iraq and is critically wounded. There is little bloodshed described. Ben's injuries are internal, so he is not disfigured, and there are no graphic descriptions of medical procedures.


Ben and his girlfriend, Ariela, are engaged, but their physical relationship is never described and barely even hinted at. After Ben is wounded, Ariela eventually becomes attracted to another boy, but she does little to pursue her interest in him.


Ben, his girlfriend, Ariela, and his best friend, Niko, infrequently use words like "assh---," "ass," "jackass" and "prick," especially in the early chapters, when they are arguing with each other. The soldiers in Iraq never say anything more explicit that "frickin'," even in the heat of battle.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

It is implied that Ariela drinks at parties during her first year at college. There is one scene in the novel in which she gets drunk on tequila as a means to dull her anxiety about Ben's progress.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am is a realistic depiction of one American soldier's rehabilitation from a traumatic brain injury in Iraq. There is only one scene of violence, when Ben is injured, and there is little bloodshed described and no graphic descriptions of medical procedures. Ben is not disfigured, but his mental recovery and its impact on his loved ones is emotionally intense.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5, 11, 14, 16, and 17-year-old Written byMusicMakesMySoulRock March 23, 2012

gonna read it

just like the title says. :)

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What's the story?

Everyone expects high school senior Ben Bright to pursue his passion for theater in college, but he shocks his family and friends by enlisting in the Army Reserves. After he suffers a traumatic brain injury in Iraq, he is flown back to the States, where his parents, his autistic brother, his fiancee and his best friend all struggle to help him put back together the scattered pieces of his shattered identity.

Is it any good?

SOMEBODY, PLEASE TELL ME WHO I AM is a very intimate, intense chronicle of one young man's rehabilitation after a catastrophic war injury. The central event -- Ben Bright's recovery -- is presented from a number of intriguing angles, and the authors show how Ben's search for identity affects his parents' marriage, his fiancee's ideas of commitment, and his autistic younger brother's search for connection. Short and to the point, Somebody, Please Tell Me... addresses its serious subject with truth and grace.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the reasons why someone might choose to serve his or her country before going off to college. What might be the benefits of such a decision? The drawbacks?

  • Why do you think the authors chose to depict the main character's little brother as autistic? What are some of the challenges in caring for someone with autism? 

  • Why do you think the war in Iraq has produced a large number of veterans with traumatic brain injuries? What could be done to prevent such injuries?

  • How does this book compare with other war stories you might have read or seen in the movies or on TV? 

Book details

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