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That Mad Game

• 2012 Skipping Stone Honor Book
• 2013 Notable Book for a Global Society

When writing their end of quarter reflections, the students in my freshmen Humanities class wrote of the impact That Mad Game had on their learning. Comments such as “the instructor’s choice of That Mad Game was excellent,

it opened my eyes and my heart to people and situations I had never thought

of before,” and “My sense of myself as a global citizen grew in leaps and bounds; I have a new awareness of how others suffer from injustice far beyond my own safety; it made me want to become more active in the world.” I will continue to use That Mad Game as the central text for my freshmen students.

It is a deeply humane way for young people to begin to grapple with the consequences of war.

Merna Ann Hecht, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Lecturer, Univeristy

of Washington, Tacoma

Uplifting tales of survival… War’s most vulnerable victims have their say.

Kirkus Reviews

[R]readers will be rewarded by [this] compelling and often uplifting anthology … That Mad Game surprises with its variety. From Taliban-controlled Kabul

to a Japanese internment camp in northern California, from a teen girl’s “soundtrack of war” in Beirut to a young man’s long walk across much of Africa, the startling stories make for rough going at times. But the humor, beauty, and humanity shining through the darkness are what make this collection a must-have for all libraries serving high school students.

Sam Bloom, School Library Journal

Truly a unique title. If we are lucky, we will never know what the contributors

to Powers’s collection have revealed. We will only have their record to better know what it was like; we will only have their sorrow to help us understand. Highly recommended.

Coleen Mondor, Bookslut

THAT MAD GAME is a collection of personal essays that can move glaciers.

At least they will move the human heart to consider the suffering of those who experience the violence and terror of war...Each essay presents a unique perspective, and each one shares pain but also hope. Even humor.

Nancy Bo Flood, The Pirate Tree

There is heartache in the stories J.L. Powers has assembled here, as well as loss and pain and death. They are about war, after all. But there is humor too, and also love and faith and hope, because they are human stories too, and as each one testifies in its own way, humans are able to heal.

Charles London, author of One Day The Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War

I was sent to the war in Afghanistan with a lot of slogans in my head about freedom and fighting terrorism. What I found instead was a tremendous respect for the good Afghan people, a deep sympathy for the Afghan children struggling for better lives, and a profound hatred of the Taliban for the way

they brutalized their own people. That Mad Game is a reminder that such hatred is the same mistake from which all the world’s wars are born. The fact that That Mad Game can steer my hard heart toward sympathy for a young Talib is a sure sign of this book’s tremendous potential to foster a spirit of

peace and understanding in readers everywhere.

Trent Reedy, author of Words in the Dust and Stealing Air

These essays give readers a front-row seat to the hunger, the hardship, and, ultimately, the resilience of people whose childhoods were forever marked by life on the front lines.

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

In reading these documents of the inhumanities of war, we open our eyes to

he ways brutality is perpetuated upon people and perhaps we become a little more compassionate from this understanding.



Coming of age during a time of war: fighting, dying, surviving. First-person accounts from around the world. Seventeen writers contribute essays about how they became adults in times of war. Essays focus on modern history but take no sides. Vietnam from both sides. Bosnia. The Gulf War. Rwanda. Juárez. El Salvador. The list goes on and on. There are no winners, just the survivors left behind. Picking up the pieces.

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