The Dangerous Summer of Jesse Turner
D. C. Reep, author
When sixteen-year-old Jesse Turner lies about his age and joins Colonel Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders to fight the Spanish in Cuba in 1898, he expects to prove himself in battle. What he doesn’t expect is a fellow volunteer who is determined to kill him for something his outlaw father did in the past. Jesse and his new friends, New Yorker Will and Ben, a Comanche from the Indian Territories, share the frustrations and hazards of a volunteer military force unprepared for war and the reality of deadly combat. Facing dangers from all sides, the three teens depend on friendship, courage, and integrity to get them through the bloody battles of the Spanish-American War.
It’s 1898, and 16-year-old Jesse Turner is eager to escape his reputation as the son of an outlaw who ran with the likes of Jesse James. In hopes of proving he is nobler than his father, Jesse leaves Missouri to join the Rough Riders, led by Theodore Roosevelt, who are en route to Cuba to fight in the Spanish-American War. Jesse quickly befriends two teenagers from New York and a Comanche, but he also makes a dangerous enemy who holds him accountable for his father’s actions. Reep and Allen introduce an earnest underdog in Jesse and carry the story briskly forward through detailed descriptions of the daily travails and bloodshed of war. Jesse’s easygoing first-person narrative keeps the tone light, yet the authors don’t avoid gritty details of the Rough Riders’ experiences, including lice infestations, spoiled meat, and crabs swarming over fallen soldiers in the jungles of Cuba. Readers drawn toward war stories will find characters worth investing in this vivid historical outing; an endnote touches on the real-life figures that appear in the novel, as well as the authors’ sources. Ages 12–up. (BookLife)