When a Boy Becomes a Legend

Children - Preteen
164 Pages
Reviewed on 02/19/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Peggy Jo Wipf for Readers' Favorite

Sheltered: When a Boy Becomes a Legend by Jacob Paul Patchen is a story that rallies your spirit and lifts your soul as the children left to defend our great country step forward to fight. James is just twelve, but he has the makings of a leader as he tells his story to the orphans he oversees. His older sister, Emily, encourages him when he is doubtful and scared. There comes a point when their scrimmages are not enough. James has to put what his dad had taught him to a greater test or die trying. The children's and the remnants of the adults' lives have been smoldering in the ashes, but with just a breath of faith and courage, James ignites the flame of resistance that is felt across the oceans. James has found it hard to win battles without behaving like the same evil that has destroyed his country; can he and the other Risers do it?

I found Jacob Paul Patchen to be a gifted author. Sheltered: When a Boy Becomes a Legend starts out with James telling his story of The Day when America fell to an unknown enemy. James’s story is fascinating, but the plot quickly divides up as we hear about his survival alone and what it took for him to endure the hardships, then as a leader of a bunch of orphans. The author places you right along with James’s followers and you feel the love for your nation and the pride in becoming a legend that so few young folks would understand. This well-written novel has the suspense and action of a thriller, yet it leaves you hopeful when our children are put to the test.

Asher Syed

Sheltered: When a Boy Becomes a Legend by Jacob Paul Patchen is a middle-grade dystopian novel that follows a thirteen-year-old revolutionist named James. The United States is united no longer and the literal implementation of scorched earth warfare between factions gives rise to James's rag-tag crew of child survivors, aptly named The Risers. Narrated from the first-person point of view of James, the story jumps back and forth to his former, mostly normal life and his current state of existence following an inauspicious falling out called The Day. The entirety of the backstory is provided as a sort of show-and-tell between James and the children who live with him in a hollowed out and abandoned elementary school. Despite his own abandonment and isolation, James clings tightly to the lessons he learned through family and his father, in particular.

There are many books out there that depict older teens and young adults fending for themselves in a desolate and dangerous new world order, but Sheltered offers an interesting perspective of catastrophe through the eyes of young children. Jacob Paul Patchen has them clinging together and governed by a de-facto leadership of children who are simply older where adults would traditionally be. The adults are too busy killing each other but it's the children who pull it together with a metaphorical super-glue reminiscent of their role with parents who want nothing to do with each other but hang in there 'for the kids'. Patchen doesn't withhold the more violent aspects of war and a trigger warning about child soldiers built from the dust of an America that has been raped and pillaged, the former being explicitly referenced. I got incredibly choked up during James's telling of a break-in where he and the family dog Keela encounter the intruders and this reaction is a credit to Patchen's ability to put heart into a heartless scenario. Recommended.

Susan Sewell

When war tears the United States apart, a group of kids led by a teenage boy fights against the aggressors to reinstate the shattered democracy in the spellbinding young adult novel, Sheltered (When A Boy Becomes A Legend) by Jacob Paul Patchen. Raised by an overprotective mother and a father who was a headstrong Marine, James and his sister, Emily, lived sheltered lives with few moments of freedom. One night James' father left and didn't return. However, over the years, he had gifted James and Emily with the knowledge and moral strength to survive anything. Early one morning, James awakens to an empty house and the Emergency Broadcast System blaring from his mother's bedroom. With the sound of bombs exploding overhead, James races to their bunker. Attacked from the inside, America was at war, and James was all alone. Can he survive on his own? Will he ever see his family again?

Portraying the struggles and casualties of a war-torn country, Sheltered (When A Boy Becomes A Legend) by Jacob Paul Patchen is a thrilling coming of age story that stirs the blood and ignites the imagination. Filled with angst and suspense, it is an electrifying narrative that left me breathless from the moment James awakens in the morning until the stunning finale. James, his youthful soldiers, and his father's character are admirable and made of the stuff that creates legends. Despite their youth, the children's courage to not only survive, but also to fight for their lives, liberty, and country is inspiring. The hair-raising plot is brimming with danger and uncertainty, and contains bloody combat scenes that are certain to delight fans of action-adventure.