This blog is a collection of book reviews, submitted as a final project for San Jose State University's LIBR 267, taught in Spring 2010 by Professor Joni Bodart.

Michelle M Coleman

Saturday, May 15, 2010

When Dad Killed Mom by Julius Lester

Lester, Julius. When Dad Killed Mom. San Diego: Silver Whistle, 2001. ISBN 0-15-216305-0


Jeremy takes after their mother, while Jenna takes after their father. Things aren't going well in their parent's relationship, but they don't realize how bad it is until Dad shoots Mom outside the town coffeeshop. Since Dad is in jail, Jenna goes to live with a family friend Karen. Jeremy prefers to continue living in the house, with his grandfather, who is in town for the trial. Jeremy finds comfort with his art teacher, Miss Albright. As the year goes on, they both learn to adjust to life without their parents. Jeremy makes friends with a younger girl Sara, whose parents take Jeremy under their wing. Jenna searches for comfort from a boy who also lost his parents, but their relationship falters when Jenna starts to move on with grieving. Told in alternating chapters, the two siblings come to build new families for themselves and learn more about the dysfunction of their biological family.

Critical Evaluation

I liked Jenna and Jeremy's approach to their mother's death. I liked the way they found new people to take care of them and to take care of. I liked the way that they mourned, but also moved on. I found that When Dad Killed Mom was a story about intentional family and grief. However, the ending of the story was incredibly disappointing. At the dad's trial, Jeremy stands up to tell the judge that he has evidence his dad was cheating on his mom. While it makes for a dramatic scene, it was completely unrealistic. The evidence was easily discovered and easily confirmed. It was if the police never interviewed a single person. The end was bad enough to almost ruin and otherwise great book.

Reader's Annotation

When Dad killed Mom, two things happened. Mom was dead and Dad was in jail. For the kids, Jeremy and Jenna, everything changes.

Genre and Subject

Realistic fiction. Crime. Domestic violence. Grief.

Bibliotherapuetic Usefulness

Jeremy and Jenna demonstrate healthy grieving at the death of their mother.

Why I chose it

What a controversial title!

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