By Craig Crist-Evans
(Candlewick, Hardcover, 9780763618636, 208pp.)
Publication Date: September 15, 2003
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
Through one brother’s narration and another’s letters from Vietnam, Craig Crist-Evans offers a moving story of two brothers separated, yet forever connected, by the devastation of war.
We had just passed the AMARYLLIS when, out of the blue, Dad asked, "Do you miss your brother?" He sounded choked up, and that surprised me. I wanted to tell him that it scared me, that Frank was who I talked to when things were bad, that I couldn’t imagine my brother lugging an M-16 into some swampy distance with a bunch of other boys his age. . . . "I don’t think about it much," I said.
AMARYLLIS. It was the name of the ship that ran aground on Singer Island, Florida, during a hurricane in 1965. It became a battle cry for Jimmy Staples and his older brother, Frank, and a code word for going surfing together. But now that eighteen-year-old Frank is off battling the enemy (and his own addictive demons) in Vietnam, and fifteen-year-old Jimmy is left to deal with the repercussions at home, "Amaryllis" takes on an ominous new meaning - a symbol of what happens when life places the unexpected in our paths.
Craig Crist-Evans has written a wrenching novel of a family whose internal battles chase one son away - into the clutches of a war and an enemy he could never have imagined. Told both from a soldier’s view and by the brother he leaves behind, AMARYLLIS is an ideal choice for students learning about the Vietnam era, or for any reader curious about the reality of war.
Craig Crist-Evans said of AMARYLLIS, "It was the fall of 1965. My family had just moved from Ohio to Florida. During one of the biggest hurricanes of the century, the AMARYLLIS nosed into the east coast of Florida near West Palm Beach. For three years, its rusting hulk rose above the beach where I surfed, skipped school, and fell in love. When I started to write this story, that ship rose up again in memory and cast its shadow across those years of turmoil, fear, and change we now call the Vietnam War." The author of MOON OVER TENNESSEE: A BOY'S CIVIL WAR JOURNAL, for which he received the International Reading Association’s Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, Craig Crist-Evans was a poet and writer who has published poems, articles, essays, and reviews in numerous journals. He also taught English and directed the Writing Center at Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania before he passed away in 2005.