Leaving Major Tela

Young Adult - Coming of Age
295 Pages
Reviewed on 05/28/2015
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Gisela Dixon for Readers' Favorite

Leaving Major Tela by J.E. O'Rourke is essentially a coming of age story about a young teenager and the relationships in her life. Caitlyn is a young teenager living with her younger brother and sister with their single parent mother, Tela. Tela originally comes from a remote area in the mountain region of Pakistan and Afghanistan. She came to the U.S. as a child and now serves in the United States Army. Tela is a tough woman and has always encouraged strength and discipline in her children in school and through martial arts. The story begins with Tela being deployed to Afghanistan on duty. She leaves the younger children under Caitlin’s charge as they go and live with their divorced father in a different town while their mother is gone. During this process, we learn about the underlying tension and sometimes resentment between mother and daughter over past events. The story that unfolds as Caitlin struggles with growing up and with the relationships in her life, along with trying to fit in with her new group of friends and maintaining her karate training, forms the crux of the plot.

Leaving Major Tela by J.E. O'Rourke is an interesting and engaging novel about the struggles of growing up that every teenager can identify with. The cast of characters is relatable and realistic, and Caitlin’s journey as she heads towards maturity and growth is nicely portrayed. I also really liked the element of martial arts training that is interspersed throughout the book and I hope that it encourages more young people to take up martial arts. Overall, this is an enjoyable read not just for teenagers, but for everybody.

Kathryn Bennett

Leaving Major Tela by J.E. O'Rourke is a story that is a journey towards independence. It is never an easy thing for a teenager to achieve their own path, but it can become even more difficult when their parents get divorced and they are thrust into that journey all too soon. Caitlin and her siblings must go and live with their father when their mother is shipped overseas. Caitlin is allowed to explore life more and make her own choices; she even meets a friend named Luka who is a free spirit. Life is never as easy as it seems, however, as Caitlin navigates through being the school paper editor, dating, and the kids around her using drugs. Can Caitlin move through life and find her own path without alienating her parents?

This story has a lot of drama, but you expect to find that within the pages of a YA novel. I can remember being a teenager when every little thing around me seemed to be life or death. That seems to be how things are for Caitlin as she navigates all of it. This is a good story and well fleshed out. J.E. O'Rourke put a lot into the workings of the characters and everything going on around the characters fits. I could certainly feel for Caitlin. I am from a divorced home myself and it was interesting to go through life being shuttled back and forth. If you are someone who enjoys YA drama, this is going to be a good book for you.

Roy T. James

Leaving Major Tela by J.E. O’Rourke is the story of Major Tela and her daughters, which begins with Tela's visit to her motherland, as a member of a foreign army. At that time, schooling, games and other activities of growing up, like training in martial arts, are progressing at a good pace. Events related to these, like classes and out of class activities, happen in quick succession for her son and daughters, true to the spirit of adolescence. Intra School and other competitions take place, where all of them take part, and the involvement of parents and other elders reach its crescendo. Events of acute emotional strain continue taking place in their lives, with Major Tela being an active participant in her children’s activities till her return to army duties.

Leaving Major Tela by J.E. O’Rourke is a story full of action, a gripping account of juvenile and teen contests liberally interposed with the narration. Instances of nervous exhaustion, which is a staple part of any description involving adolescence, also do find a place in this. Competitions, both in academic topics and that of the sports field, are given large coverage. One nonconformity, I couldn’t but notice though, is that words of oriental origin, - karma, tabla drums, Nehru jacket or yoga - are lavishly dispersed in this story without introducing a logical connection with the Indian sub-continent or thereabouts. On the whole, a good book for the intended audience, where the content and the presentation are well expressed.

Teresa Dean

My cousin wrote this book and as with all his creativity Leaving Major Tela is just another example of J E O'Rourke's many talents. He gets 5 stars on the book and on living life to the fullest!
I'm certainly no teenager and I enjoyed the book that tells of growing up the with a strict military mother that is all about her children being in control but in the end getting a good taste of independence because of Major Tela.
Well worth reading and enjoying the action packed drama and adventures of the family.