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The Inside Battle

"Powerful in its impact while remaining true to its middle-grade audience, Sumrow's latest is unafraid to fully explore how hate, misplaced anger, and racism can affect the relationship between a boy and his father."--Booklist

Thirteen-year-old Rebel Mercer yearns for his father's approval. His dad suffers from PTSD and spends time in their basement communicating with a racist, anti-government militia group called the Flag Bearers. He doesn't agree with his dad's ideology, but he isn't exactly speaking out against it either. Can Rebel find his voice when it's needed the most?

Thirteen-year-old Rebel Mercer lives in west Texas with his dad, Nathan, and his aunt, Birdie. His dad is finally home after serving in the military, and Rebel longs for his approval. But something isn't right. His dad has PTSD, and lately he has been spending his time communicating with a racist, anti-government militia group called the Flag Bearers. Rebel doesn't agree with his dad's newfound ideas, but he turns a blind eye to them. So when his best friend Ajeet beats Rebel at a robotics tournament by using one of Rebel's pieces, Rebel begins to wonder if there's some truth to what his dad has been saying, and he lashes out at Ajeet.

Expelled from school, Rebel is taken by his dad to the mountains of Oklahoma, where they meet up with the Flag Bearers. Soon his dad is engulfed in the group and its activities, and they're becoming more and more dangerous. When Rebel gets wind of a planned attack on an African American church, he knows that this group has gone too far and innocent people could get hurt. Can Rebel find his voice and stop the Flag Bearers from carrying out their plans before it's too late?

The Inside Battle is a gripping story of family, bravery, and speaking up for what's right from author Melanie Sumrow.

Powerful in its impact while remaining true to its middle-grade audience, Sumrow's latest is unafraid to
fully explore how hate, misplaced anger, and racism can affect the relationship between a boy and his
father. Rebel attempts to navigate his father's mercurial moods, caused by untreated PTSD after returning
home from a stint in the military, through avoidance and focusing on robotics. After a tough loss to his
best friend Ajeet during a competition, Rebel turns his resentment outward and commits an appalling,
hateful act of vandalism. In response, Rebel's father takes him to a training camp for a racist paramilitary
group. While the group plans acts of violence against minorities and the government, Rebel tries to decide
if saving his father-and siding with the extremists-is worth the loss of his friendships and convictions.
A somewhat too-convenient twist moves the story toward a conclusion free of explicit violence that does
not downplay the consequences of each character's actions. The author's note also provides important
conversation starters about bigotry, PTSD, and using one's voice as a tool for justice.

– Booklist

More books from this author: Melanie Sumrow