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Benjamin Hertwig

PRE-ORDER: Juiceboxers

PRE-ORDER: Juiceboxers

Regular price $24.95 CAD
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Note: This is a pre-order. Publication date for this book is September 3, 2024.

By Benjamin Hertwig | Freehand Books (2024)

A powerful debut novel about four young soldiers serving in Afghanistan, and the devastating aftermath of war.

Juiceboxers is an unvarnished, intimately informed dissection of war’s physical and emotional derangements. So many moments in Benjamin Hertwig’s dark but ultimately tender novel reminded me, with eerie precision, of things I had seen and heard while covering the invasion of Afghanistan – the marrow-deep racism; the casual bloodlust; the desperate need to belong to something, anything. To read this book is to contend with what the enterprise of industrial-scale violence can do to its most active participants, the many ways in which one emerges from so bloody a thing dislocated from who they used to be.” OMAR EL AKKAD author of What Strange Paradise and American War

Juiceboxers is not a coming-of-age story – it is a coming to grips story. The reader is lulled through desert days and nights where time is absent, but the bravado and bigotry of war isn’t. From the sandy hills and mountains of Afghanistan to the slushy streets of Edmonton, Hertwig’s poetic prose leaves us with a sense of hope . . . [Hertwig’s words] do not shy away from horror and healing.” NORMA DUNNING author of Tainna and Annie Muktuk and Other Stories

Juiceboxers is a fiercely honest portrait of young soldiers fighting a war Canada would rather forget and then discovering that it has followed them home. Benjamin Hertwig’s debut novel is an unflinching act of remembrance, a tale of brotherhood and prejudice, and a moving portrait of lives and friendships forged and torn apart.” THOMAS WHARTON author of The Book of Rain and Icefields

“Tempering harshness with tenderness and humour, Benjamin Hertwig’s Juiceboxers maps external and internal territories of conflict with sure grasp of character. A gripping addition to the canon of the literature of war and what comes after.” NABEN RUTHNUM author of A Hero of Our Time

Sixteen-year-old Plinko, attending basic training in the summer before high school starts up again in the fall, acquired his nickname when he happened to mention The Price is Right to another recruit. Feeling adrift from his own family after graduation, Plinko moves in with an older soldier, where he forges an unlikely group of friends: Walsh, who moves in shortly after Plinko does; Abdi, whose Somalian immigrant parents often welcome the group of young men over for dinner; and the unpredictable and gun-loving Krug, who is brash and exasperating yet magnetic. The four are variously involved with the military – Plinko, for instance, works as a reservist on weekends and Wednesday evenings – and they fill their days with school, part-time jobs, watching movies, ordering pizza, playing video games late into the night.

And then – 9/11. As the military prepares to move into Afghanistan, the trajectories of the four friends’ lives are changed irrevocably.

Drawn from the author’s experiences as a soldier in Afghanistan, Juiceboxers tenderly traces the story of a young man’s journey from basic training, to the battlefields of Kandahar, to the oil fields of Alberta, braiding together questions of masculinity and militarism, friendship and violence, loss and trauma, ideology and innocence.

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