Cover image for Personal effects
Personal effects
Library ed.
Publication Information:
Grand Haven, Mich. : Brilliance Audio, p2012.
Physical Description:
8 sound discs (9 hr., 8 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
Candlewick on BrillianceAudio
General Note:

Compact discs.
Matt has been sleepwalking through life while seeking answers about his brother T.J.'s death in Iraq, but after discovering that he may not have known his brother as well as he thought he did, Matt is able to stand up to his father, honor T.J.'s memory, and take charge of his own life.
Added Author:


Material Type
Shelf Number
Item Notes
CD Book KOKIE, E. PERSONAL 1 .CIRCNOTE. 8 compact discs

On Order



Seventeen-year-old Matt Foster thought that if he could only get his hands on his brother's stuff from Iraq, he'd be able to make sense of his death. He wasn't expecting T.J.'s personal effects to raise even more questions about his life.

Now, even if it means pushing his dad over the edge...

even if it means losing his best friend...

even if it means getting expelled from school...

Matt will do whatever it takes to find out the truth about his brother's past.

With compassion, humor, and a compelling narrative voice, E. M. Kokie explores grief and self-discovery in this powerful first novel.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Still angry and hurting from his brother's death in Iraq, Matt Foster goes through TJ's personal effects, reads love letters from someone in Madison, WI, and drives there, only to discover that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy extended to his family as well. Compelling and vividly told. Audio version available from Brilliance Audio. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

In an outstanding debut, Kokie tackles the tumultuous aftermath of a soldier's death, as seen through the eyes of a sibling left behind. Ever since 17-year-old Matt Foster's older brother, T.J., died in Iraq, Matt has been enraged-especially with anyone who criticizes the war or his brother's role in it-and he doesn't hesitate to express himself with his fists. Meanwhile, his authoritative and physically intimidating ex-military father seems determined to erase every sign of his deceased son's presence. When Matt gets his hands on some of T.J.'s possessions, he discovers that T.J. had a life he never knew about, complete with girlfriend and potential child. Risking his father's wrath, Matt borrows a car and takes an impromptu road trip, hoping to reconnect with his brother's memory. Writing with grace and subtlety, Kokie depicts Matt's emotions as he uncovers the details of T.J's hidden life. Through raw moments and strikingly mature characterizations, Kokie explores loss, personal relationships, and the burden of preconceptions. Ages 14-up. Agent: Chris Richman, Upstart Crow Literary. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Seven months since his beloved brother T.J. was killed in Iraq, Matt is so laden with anger and pain that he is on the verge of exploding. A vocal pacifist classmates antiwar slogans and graphic T-shirts push Matt over the edge: fists, blood, and Dads words in his head -- "Wuss. Show him...Fight." Matt breaks the students nose and smashes a glass trophy case. Stiff, bruised, and suspended for a week, he worries only about what his violence-prone father will do to him when he gets home. The author conveys Matts grief over T.J. and his fear of his father so palpably that the readers stomach tightens in empathy. His father, an ex-sergeant, refuses to discuss T.J.s death or allow Matt any sign of sorrow, telling him only to "man up." Matts best friend Shauna and her real concern help Matt get through the days, but even this one good thing contains tension: Matt longs for much more than friendship from Shauna but is awkwardly unclear about what signals she is sending. Kokie sets up a credible situation that builds to such intensity that something has to give, and when Matt discovers love letters among T.Js things, he lights out on a road trip to explore some unknown pieces of T.J.s life. In the process, Matt confronts unexpected truths about who T.J. was but gains the friendship of others who loved him, too. Kokies well-crafted debut novel depicts a military family with admirable complexity while tracing one young mans hard-fought coming of age. lauren adams (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

"Embrace the suck," is Matt Foster's older brother T.J.'s advice to him, and he's got a whole lot of suck to embrace. Not only did T.J. leave Matt with their vicious, alcoholic father--their bipolar mother died years ago--when he enlisted and then deployed to the Middle East, now he is dead. Their father resolutely refuses to talk about T.J., and he's hidden the small bag of stuff the "uniforms" brought the Fosters when they notified them of T.J'.s death. Under suspension for fighting--and threat of "so help me" if he doesn't get his ass back in gear--Matt finds an unexpected opportunity when more uniforms drop off his brother's remaining personal effects: trunks containing photographs of a beautiful black woman and her family and often-steamy letters from "C." With help from his lifelong friend Shauna, he plots an escape to Madison, Wisc., where he hopes to connect with his brother's memory. Matt tells his tale in an almost excruciatingly deliberate present-tense narration; Kokie grounds readers so thoroughly in Matt's misery that they will be as itchy to escape the brutal emptiness of life with his father as he is. Realistically, though the inevitable revelation and resolution bring peace to Matt, they do not heal his father; readers will just have to hope he can make it through. A fine addition to the literature of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Historical fiction. 14 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Devastated after his beloved older brother, T.J., is killed on active duty in Iraq, Matt, 17, combs through T.J.'s personal items sent home by the army. After finding passionate love letters from someone called Celia, Matt travels to find her in Madison, where he is shocked to discover his brother's secret. Some of the characters are not fully developed. Matt's bullying father is completely demonic as he pushes Matt to be a man, not a fairy. In contrast, Matt's sexy girlfriend, Shauna, is too perfectly supportive and understanding. But Matt's first-person, present-tense narrative, with its fast, contemporary dialogue, will grab readers right from the opening scene, where enraged Matt gets in trouble at school for pummeling a self-righteous antiwar bully. At the core is the brothers' close bond, and most moving is Matt's coming to terms with his own prejudice and his guilt and anguish about T.J.: He never told me what was in his head. . . . And I didn't ask. --Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist