This is, hands down, the best book for younger readers that I have read. As a high school English teacher, I am in contact with teens all day long, and so I have a priviledged access to teens in their everyday lives. This book may well also be the best book written for teenaged boys, because Todd's struggle to be a man, and to come to terms with the mystery of what a girl is, as a different but equal being, goes to the heart of what boys struggle through on their way to becoming respectable and honourable men. Sadly, not all boys make it as far as Todd on this journey, and too many end up more like Davey Prentice. IT is violent, yes, but the violence is healthy: it hurts and hurts and hurts some more. It is not glorified or glamourous, it is real. So many important subjects are broached in this book, and all in the right ways. I read this book to my daughter when she was eleven, and she loved, so girls get it too. It rightly deserves the awards it has won, and because it is fiction, it makes the reality of war accessible to readers who are, thank God, almost completely sheltered from it. It is brilliant from end to end, funny and terribly powerful.