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Where birds fly by day across the desert sky, by night government fighter planes and helicopters make training runs using live ammunition, and an anonymous dead body floats in from the sea. These events inspire Ares, on the cusp of his adolescence, to enact elaborate fantasies of mortal combat. His membership in a troubled family marks Ares as a casualty of a different kind of war. Malcolm, age 7, is mentally handicapped, and his mother chooses not to do anything about it.
Ares' struggle with the burden of responsibility -- to himself and to others -- draws him into a world of drugs, violence, and sex that he is not prepared for, launching him into a very personal battle for his own identity, one that has a lethal outcome.
The God of War
Silver, author of the novel No Direction Home, has crafted a moving narrative about a troubled young boy and his struggle to find himself. Set in 1978 in the desert of Southern California, the novel focuses on 12-year-old Ares Ramirez who lives with his mother, Laurel, and his mentally handicapped brother, Malcolm, in a small trailer. Laurel has an unorthodox view of parenting and seeks treatment for seven-year-old Malcolm with some hesitation. Her noncommittal boyfriend is a sore point with Ares, who feels hemmed in and restless in the tiny trailer. Experiencing his first pangs of adolescent angstfeelings that soon develop into violent tendenciesAres seeks a way to release his pent-up frustration. When he befriends Kevin, the adopted son of Malcolm's new speech therapist and a boy with problems of his own, Ares gets a taste of the real, grown-up world, which he is not quite mature enough to handle. After his destructive impulses come to a head, he is forced to make some overwhelming decisionschoices that will forever alter the course of his young life. Silver writes with wisdom and compassion about family ties and the difficulties of growing up. The California desert, barren yet beautiful, which she so vividly renders, provides a haunting backdrop for this unforgettable work of fiction.
A reading group guide is included in the book.