Blog Tour {Review, Excerpt & Giveaway}—A Missing Peace by Beth Fred

A turbulent, emotionally charged YA novel that breaks down barriers and challenges the status quo…

Angry, seventeen-year-old Iraqi war refugee Mirriam Yohanna hates her new life in Killeen, Texas, where the main attraction is a military base, populated with spoiled army brats like Caleb Miller. 

Caleb has much to be angry about too, including Mirriam who turns him down flat in front of everyone. Eager for retribution, Caleb agrees to a dare that will see him take Mirriam to the prom and regain his pride. 

But their relationship soon moves beyond high school antics. Mirriam and Caleb are bound together by more than location, and as they are forced to work closely together on a school assignment, they start to uncover an explosive story that has the potential to ruin lives — and both of their futures. One single truth changes everything and strengthens their bond. 

When Mirriam’s family discovers their relationship, they decide it’s time to arrange her marriage to a proper Iraqi man. Caleb must convince Mirriam that he is in it for forever — or risk losing her for good.

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A Missing Peace is a sweet YA Romance of two teens with very different ethnic backgrounds finding peace—within themselves, with their pasts and beliefs, between all their differences and the unexpected challenges, along with society’s assumptions, prejudice, and peer pressure.

Mirriam Yohanna, an Arabic Christian and Iraqi war refugee, moves near a military base in Kileen, Texas. Though in the beginning she appears a bit stuck-up and removed from her classmates, I liked her immediately. She’s trying to protect herself from the ridicule and hate she expects. Stereotypes on top of new-girl status, in a school of military kids who think they know the world? Well, her attitude is understandable, especially considering her past encounter with U.S. Forces.

Enter Caleb Miller, school jock who lost his father in Iraq. Despite his hate for the enemy, he agrees to a bet to take Mirriam to prom. To win, he must get close to her, and what better way than to become her study partner. But they soon learn their similarities far outweigh their differences, shattering everything they both thought they knew. 

This story had so much promise. Not only was I drawn in by a different YA Romance of two heritages that are at war, but being a military brat myself, I enjoy any military setting and seeing authors portray it correctly. I’d like to say Beth Fred did, but the physical and tangible aspects of military life for a teen is hardly touched upon in the novel; it isn’t the focus, but I would’ve been pulled into scenes and the characters’ lives more if there were minute details were included. 

The important, overall feel of gratitude and loyalty is definitely there, though. The effect of loss and distance on immediate families and fellow soldiers is, too. Not as strongly as I like and expected, but still present. 

Sadly, I feel this way about every aspect of the book. Good, nice, but could have been so much more. The plot, with how entwined and complicated Caleb’s and Mirriam’s pasts are, is interesting but a little predictable. I’m glad it went deeper and farther than the bet, but I wish story was dragged out more to develop the characters, relationships, and resolution. The bet was unnecessary to begin with. It didn’t affect anyone’s choices, emotions, nor actions, and I completely forgot about it until the end; same with the school project. What seemed to be a big deal in the beginning had very little place in the rest of the book, and I found the ending sweet but … unbelievable, unrealistic. 

A short read, with fast pacing and potential depth. A lot of discussion-worthy topics and emotional perspectives—from racism to religion, enemy and friendly fire to global warming, PTSD and suicide to conspiracy and duty. But everything was rushed, skimmed over, and many events felt convenient. Also, naturally overdramatic because the characters are teens, but not dramatic—heavy—enough in the areas that mattered.

Still, young teens might enjoy this story. It is sweet, has some good lessons, and ends fairy-tale like. I simply had high expectations. I greatly appreciated theme of finding peace, though, no matter how small or big the war, and how one can honor the heroes who sacrifice their lives for it.

eBook provided by the author via Itching for Books Tours. 
Thank you!

I’d had it. That girl had called me a raghead before class started, and I didn’t care. But this teacher was stupid. No wonder Americans were so ignorant. They were taught ignorance.“It wasn’t that bad,” I started to say, but then realized I’d spoken out of turn. My hand shot up, but Mrs. Culpepper kept going like she didn’t see it. I kept my hand up until she acknowledged me. 
“Yes, Mirriam?”“It wasn’t that bad.”“What?”“Iraq. I lived there until two years ago. Honestly, we were all much safer before the bombing started. And I thought we were at war because the U.S. believed we had stockpiled nuclear weapons, which they never found?”“If it wasn’t so bad, why are you here?” the All-American jerk beside me asked.I rolled my eyes. “Because the bombing destroyed everything.”“What about all the women on the news who said Hussein’s sons raped them?” Caleb asked.“What about the woman who said the same about your President Clinton?” I asked. “You can’t tell me it was safe there. People were starving. Everyone turned against that man,” he said.“He wasn’t popular, but we didn’t really turn against him, either. He was better than the bombings, and a lot of things you call ‘maltreatment’ we call culture.”“So you liked needing a male escort to walk outside?”“I had to have a male escort, because my father insisted. Women didn’t need male escorts. Even here, my brother usually goes with me when I’m out.” It keeps strangers from calling me beautiful.“This is a good debate,” Mrs. Culpepper said.But All-American Boy shook his head. “We saved you people.”That was too much. “Saved us from what?” My pitch and volume both went up. Instantly, I regretted it, but it was too late. “We didn’t need saving, until you came with guns.”“My dad died helping you people, so I don’t appreciate that,” he snapped.“Let’s calm down—” Mrs. Culpepper started.“Appreciate it or not, it’s the truth. My dad was gunned down for trying to save a man. Who exactly did that save?”I never talked about that. If I didn’t say it out loud, maybe I wouldn’t think about it. If I didn’t think about it, maybe, for one second, I could forget about it. And then maybe, I could forget how much I hated the world.But I would never forget it. Yet at the same time, I couldn’t really remember it. I knew that it had happened like I knew my name or that the earth was round. But the details, they’d disappeared.A terse silence filled the room. Caleb looked at me—looked into me—with deep brown eyes, and I wondered why. Was he trying to come up with his next insult? Did he feel guilty for the things he’d said?“I didn’t mean for the conversation to get so lively,” Mrs. Culpepper said.When Caleb finally spoke, his voice had gone soft, almost sympathetic. “We’re there to keep terrorists from doing things like that.” 
A single tear rolled down my cheek, scorching my face. In spite of this, I let out a laugh. “Except, he was shot by an American soldier.”Caleb’s mouth gaped. He rocked back in his chair and didn’t say anything else.

Visit the A Missing Peace tour schedule for interviews, gust posts, and more excerpts and reviews.

Beth Fred
Meet Beth Fred! A full time ELF keeper and part time writer/blogger/writing instructor. Beth likes her tea hot, her romance sweet, and her guys chivalrous. Real men hold open doors, refer to you as ma’am, make promises they keep, and aren’t afraid to profess their undying love. It’s not breakfast if there aren’t carbs (at least, not in the South). Fajitas, carnitas, and churros are just a few of Beth’s favorite things. Bet you can’t guess where she’s from.

A Missing Peace plus a $10 Amazon gift card {International}

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