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SIX STRING ROCKETEER: Holding Life Together When Your Parents Split Apart
Jesse Butterworth
WaterBrook Press
Youth Interest/Issues
ISBN: 1578568846

It's estimated that since 1970, more than one million children a year have been directly impacted by divorce. Jesse Butterworth is one of those kids. In SIX STRING ROCKETEER, Butterworth candidly shares what it was like to discover that his parents were separating and eventually ending their marriage.

Butterworth's book reads like a high school memoir. It's filled with funny stories of growing up as a Christian with all its ironies and rather bizarre spiritual-meets-secular moments. He describes being part of the "God Squad" in school and the struggles and heartache of being a slightly overweight kid with the name Butterworth. (And in case you're wondering, yes, he has already heard all the jokes.) His personal stories are delivered in a humorous, deprecating manner that is both engaging and relatable.

He writes, "We were often referred to as the "God Squad" because we were all church kids. But it wasn't our deep love for the unlovely, our hours donated to charity, or our total abandonment to Jesus that set us apart. It was that we didn't cuss. We avoided every forbidden four-letter word by substituting words like frigging and schista and using phrases such as 'What the crap!' Also, if we ever said something negative about a person, we began by saying, 'Bless her heart,' and then followed it up with something like, 'but Janet is truly the most repulsive girl in the whole school.'"

Barely crossing 100 pages, the actual allusions to the breakup of his family are late in coming. In many ways, this isn't really a book about divorce --- it's a book about growing up as a Christian kid in a secular world and having your world rocked by an all-too-common reality. The actual moment where Butterworth finds out the gruesome news that his parents are separating doesn't hit until page 57. That's when readers discover his response of shock and grief. For the last half of the book, we learn of his emotional shutdown and recovery. We also learn how the tender gift of his father --- an old guitar --- provided a much-needed path for healing. Throughout, Butterworth acknowledges God and communicates vulnerably without being preachy.

Within the chapters, the author adds little pieces of trivia and humor. The book is packed with sidebars and inserts. There's a reference to a babysitter who wouldn't let the kids watch "The Smurfs" and a respelling of a "Pines" neighborhood sign to something far more amusing.

There's also a lots of random trivia, like the "Special Secret Mario Message" that reads: "Defeat Koopaling at the end of an Airshop (Worlds 1-7) while wearing either the Frog, Tanooki, or Hammer Brothers suit and receive a special message from the King." While only Super Mario fans will truly appreciate this, it adds color to the text and is a welcome addition for short attention span readers.

Throughout the book, Butterworth does a masterful job of keeping off-color humor and references to a G-rating. He hints and alludes without crossing any lines.

Overall, SIX STRING ROCKETEER is a refreshing read for today's youth. Recommended to anyone whose parents have been through a separation or divorce.

   --- Reviewed by Margaret Feinberg (www.margaretfeinberg.com)

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