Jim Webb travels to Nashville to try and uncover the truth about his grandfather's involvement in the Vietnam War, specifically whether he was a double agent and helped in the death of a missing soldier and his wife. Webb gets paired up with an old, African-American Vietnam vet named Lee, and they traverse the whole of the South and then some in fast cars, borrowed planes, and rented junkers, trying to stay one step ahead of a ""Bogeyman"" who burned down Lee's house and wants to stop them from uncovering the truth. The writing is slow, which isn't good for a reluctant reader, and the long passages about history and civil rights are far too much like a lecture to keep anyone's interest. While I appreciate the book's attempt to teach the reader some lessons about equality and history, a book for reluctant readers just isn't the place for it. This book would better serve a middle school or freshman class learning about the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, and even then there are still better choices.
I can only recommend the SEVEN SEQUELS series for very special cases of reluctant readers. While the content would appeal to older readers, in high school or even college-age, the writing is too full of complex vocabulary and context-specific jargon to work in this context. Another issue is that despite it being a series, the exposition regarding the main character's family and history are rehashed in every single book - this was boring to me, and I fully expect it to be a boring turn-off for readers. However, if that hadn't been the case, and the exposition had been left out, the reader wouldn't have been able to just pick up one of the sequels and ""read one, read them all, you choose the order"" like is advertised everywhere in the book - because they would have been missing key plot points and character relationships. It's unfortunate, because I can see this series filling a gap in interesting series for reluctant readers.
Grades: 8 - adult
Literary Merit: Poor