The Mosaic by Nina Berkhout

The Mosaic

Twyla Jane Lee has one goal. To finish senior year so she can get out of her military hometown of Halo, Montana. But to graduate, she needs to complete forty hours of community service, and that means helping out a rude and reclusive former Marine named Gabriel Finch.A young veteran of the conflicts in the Middle East, Gabriel spends his days holed up in a decommissioned n...

Title:The Mosaic
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Edition Language:English

The Mosaic Reviews

  • Heather Pearson

    Twyla has her life planned, knows what she wants and the guy she is going to do it all with. until she meets Gabriel, and injured war veteran. Her community service stint is supposed to be a one of , no strings attached. At first she dislikes Gabriel, but over time she starts to meet the real man behind the solitary, don't need any help image he presents. This community service arrangement brings out the worst in her seemingly perfect boyfriend.

    Twyla has to confront a lot of truths she is now le

    Twyla has her life planned, knows what she wants and the guy she is going to do it all with. until she meets Gabriel, and injured war veteran. Her community service stint is supposed to be a one of , no strings attached. At first she dislikes Gabriel, but over time she starts to meet the real man behind the solitary, don't need any help image he presents. This community service arrangement brings out the worst in her seemingly perfect boyfriend.

    Twyla has to confront a lot of truths she is now learning. She has to determine who she truly wants to be as opposed to who others expect or are pressuring her to be. While Twyla is learning about becoming an adult, Gabriel begins to confront the ghosts that have haunted him since his earlier deployments. I was fascinated to read about the ammunition mosaic that he is creating and how it was helping him to cope.

    This was a thought provoking read. It wasn't light and fluffy, but more a gritty story that reflects true to life issues that teens have to deal with. I had me thinking about gossip and heresay as opposed to the underlying truth of situations. Twyla learned that you can't take everything at surface value especially when people and their emotions are involved.

    To learn more about art made with ammunition, visit the website of artist John Ton

    A google search for ammunition art found many more examples.

    I received an advance reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review,

    #IndigoEmployee

  • Jen

    This is a really powerful book about a girl who just wants to get out of her close-minded, dying military town in the middle of Montana. She and her boyfriend dream of going to California where she will get away from the military industrial complex and take easy pictures of the surf and people's weddings.

    But before then she has to complete community service with a terse Marine veteran who is more complicated than he seems. Will he burst Twyla's worldview?

  • Elaine Tucker

    A slow start to this book, but it does not take too long before you are totally into it and just keep turning the pages one after the other to see what happens next. For a class project the students are to pick a Community Service and must spend 40 hours doing it. Twyla Jane chooses spending time with a Vet, a former Marine named Gabriel Finch.

    Gabriel is a rude and a recluse person who spends hours and hours in a decommissioned nuclear missile silo. What is he doing, that is the question? Gabrie

    A slow start to this book, but it does not take too long before you are totally into it and just keep turning the pages one after the other to see what happens next. For a class project the students are to pick a Community Service and must spend 40 hours doing it. Twyla Jane chooses spending time with a Vet, a former Marine named Gabriel Finch.

    Gabriel is a rude and a recluse person who spends hours and hours in a decommissioned nuclear missile silo. What is he doing, that is the question? Gabriel has a dog named Storm. Storm is a guard dog who snaps at you if you come to close.

    This book, The Mosaic by Nina Berkhout. is a great read and I recommend it to anyone who is looking to read an excellent story.

  • Barbara

    Senior Twyla Lee has always considered her hometown of Halo, Montana, to be a dead end, and she and her boyfriend Billy Goodwin have plans to move to California for a better life. Billy's not a local, and he has his parents' financial backing and dreams of cooking his way to fame. Although Twyla enjoys taking photographs just like her grandfather, she has floated through school, barely passing and participating in few extracurricular activities. Although she may have dreams, they seem submerged

    Senior Twyla Lee has always considered her hometown of Halo, Montana, to be a dead end, and she and her boyfriend Billy Goodwin have plans to move to California for a better life. Billy's not a local, and he has his parents' financial backing and dreams of cooking his way to fame. Although Twyla enjoys taking photographs just like her grandfather, she has floated through school, barely passing and participating in few extracurricular activities. Although she may have dreams, they seem submerged beneath Billy's ambitions. When she has to complete community service hours by helping out at the home of Gabriel Finch, a Marine who has severe PTSD, Twyla has no intention of getting involved. The man is rude, and even his dog Storm is not particularly friendly. Eventually, Gabriel reveals his secret: he's using ammunition to create a mosaic in one of the area's decommissioned missile sites on the family farm. His labor of love is a tribute to the wonders of ancient civilization and a way of atoning for what happened when he was serving in the Baghdad area. Twyla decides to enter the mosaic in a contest held by the Museum of Modern Art. Not only would the $100,000 save his family's farm, but possibly give Gabriel a reason to live too. While I liked the descriptions of this amazing art treasure, I saw the book's ending coming from a mile away, which was a little bit disappointing. The judgment and bigotry of some of the citizens of this small town are displayed clearly in the book, showing how quickly the sentiments of a small town can turn against someone who was once a favorite son. While there are things to like about Twyla, I wondered about her rootlessness and her lack of a goal as well as how many times she missed signs about what was in Gabriel's future from what he said about not having much time left to finish his work. I also didn't see the point of the drama about her parent's relationship, and I wondered about what will happen next to this small town, a lot like many others in our country, dependent on one or two industries whose departure dooms them. Twyla's family wants more for her than working at the local slaughterhouse, but had she not planned to hitch onto Billy's coattails at first, I wondered what her fate might have been. If nothing else, readers will finish this book with the firm realization that war and conflict are complicated, and there is not one side to matters.

  • Abigail Troppmann

    It was simply breath taking. An incredible contemporary piece that explored the depths of humanity through real characters. Slow to begin with, but once Gabriel's secret is revealed to Twyla, you cannot put it down.

    Genuinely an eye opener. Incredibly thought provoking, and an absolute must read if you don't mind your heart breaking and then rebuilding itself all over again.

  • Milky Mixer

    Nina Berkhout, this is the second time you have broken my heart! It was a pleasure getting to meet you at Word On The Street and to tell you how much I loved your earlier book, The Gallery of Lost Species. When I read the synopsis for The Mosaic, I thought, "Well this is unexpected." But just like Gallery, it took no time for me to get caught up in the characters and their sidelined world. Even now, I find myself sitting here thinking about Twyla and Gabriel and the rural landscape and the story

    Nina Berkhout, this is the second time you have broken my heart! It was a pleasure getting to meet you at Word On The Street and to tell you how much I loved your earlier book, The Gallery of Lost Species. When I read the synopsis for The Mosaic, I thought, "Well this is unexpected." But just like Gallery, it took no time for me to get caught up in the characters and their sidelined world. Even now, I find myself sitting here thinking about Twyla and Gabriel and the rural landscape and the story's interesting insights into war and pacifism and the individual and how grey it can become. Like I said, heartbreak! Thank you for writing this book. Thank you for the beauty you put on your pages. Now please tell me where to find my own pair of blueberry-colored cowboy boots. I'll wear them when I go to Whitehorse. ^.~

  • Bethany

    The Mosaic was moving and beautifully written, far more than I anticipated. The story follows Twyla, a young woman living in rural Montana who begins to fall for a former Marine who is surprisingly artistic, but is suffering from PTSD after serving two tours of duty in the Middle East. The book captures life in a small agricultural town in middle-America that is struggling economically and slowly fading. Reading the book I couldn't help but think of how it paints a portrait of some of the key vo

    The Mosaic was moving and beautifully written, far more than I anticipated. The story follows Twyla, a young woman living in rural Montana who begins to fall for a former Marine who is surprisingly artistic, but is suffering from PTSD after serving two tours of duty in the Middle East. The book captures life in a small agricultural town in middle-America that is struggling economically and slowly fading. Reading the book I couldn't help but think of how it paints a portrait of some of the key voters in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

    The author handles rather deftly the complex issues surrounding war, the military, and anti-Muslim sentiment. It is also a coming of age story that tackles the pain and complexity of love in a more realistic way then you typically see in a book written for a younger audience.

    I will say that Twyla is initially not very likable and says some really insensitive things. Also be aware that while not used in a positive or exculpatory context, there are instances of extremely derogatory language about Muslims. The author doesn't shy away from portraying the ugliness of racism. However, the story is poignant and thought-provoking and I would definitely recommend it.

  • Laurie Varga

    I'd give the first half of "The Mosaic" 3 stars and the second half 5 stars.

    The writing is exceptional throughout and the author brings poetic resonance to a hard-luck rural town where the only thing propping it up is the military presence. I found the main character for the first 1/3 of the story was the fictional town it was set in, Halo, Montana. Unfortunately, Halo is a most depressing place with no redeeming qualities or characters that inhabit it. Even the heroine, Twyla Lee, failed to shi

    I'd give the first half of "The Mosaic" 3 stars and the second half 5 stars.

    The writing is exceptional throughout and the author brings poetic resonance to a hard-luck rural town where the only thing propping it up is the military presence. I found the main character for the first 1/3 of the story was the fictional town it was set in, Halo, Montana. Unfortunately, Halo is a most depressing place with no redeeming qualities or characters that inhabit it. Even the heroine, Twyla Lee, failed to shine above it all and thus draw me into this hopeless environment. The only bright spot was her grandmother, a failed poet who lives in an Airstream.

    However, as the attention shifts from Halo to the recovering vet Twyla is tasked with assisting, a sliver of optimism is infused into the plot and I found myself drawn into the story where I had trouble putting it down, but I had to because I needed my sanity sleep. So I picked it up the next day and polished off the last few chapters. I'm glad I didn't finish before I went to bed because this is no HEA and the ending left me reeling for about 24 hours.

    I found there was a little too much exposition throughout, especially in the beginning and a few of the metaphors were heavy-handed but I wonder if that's because this is intended to be a YA novel. I don't read a lot of YA so I'm not sure.

    Overall, I would recommend reading this and I'm glad I have a print copy in my collection.

  • Anna

    I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    Halo, Montana is a dying town next to a military base. The future of the majority of the kids in this town involves oil fields, the slaughterhouse, or enlisting in the military. Twyla and her boyfriend plan to move to California to start a catering business. Twyla will be in charge of the logistics and photographing the food while Billy goes to college and does the cooking. On their off time they'll surf and enjoy life and

    I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    Halo, Montana is a dying town next to a military base. The future of the majority of the kids in this town involves oil fields, the slaughterhouse, or enlisting in the military. Twyla and her boyfriend plan to move to California to start a catering business. Twyla will be in charge of the logistics and photographing the food while Billy goes to college and does the cooking. On their off time they'll surf and enjoy life and all that stuff teenagers dream of. In the mean time, they need to get through senior year. Their school requires 40 community service hours to graduate. Twyla ends up with "Help a Vet", helping Gabriel, a local veteran/former high school football legend who has just come back from two tours in Iraq. This brings about a different sort of YA novel.

    One of the major topics of this book has to do with the Iraq War and all the different viewpoints of the war and the military itself. Most the people in the town see the military as their lifeline. Recruiters swarm the school trying to get students to enlist right after graduation. Pregnant teens see themselves almost as incubators for future soldiers. Many people see Iraqis and Muslims as terrorists. They see going to Iraq as an opportunity to kill and rid the world of evil. Twyla is quite the pacifist and thinks everything about the war and the soldiers who go there as morally repugnant. Her first few interactions with Gabriel involve her asking him how he feels to have innocent blood on his hands.

    Gabriel has obvious PTSD from his tours. He deals with it by making a massive mosaic made out of ammunition. It's a mix between paying homage to Mesopotamia and making amends for what he did while in Iraq. Twyla has to reconcile her opinion of the military with the grieving veteran she's helping. This is obviously on top of dealing with her messed up family and also her douchenozzle of a boyfriend.

    While the "typical YA" topics of her family, boyfriend, school, college, life are dealt with in a better than average fashion than other YA books; what makes this book stand out is commentary on the war. It's not as easy to condemn soldiers or insurgents as some people try to make it. And while it comes off a little heavy handed in this book, it's something that needs to be said 5, 10, 100, 1000, millions of times. Just on repeat really.

    Another important topic this book covers has to do with mental healthcare for veterans. Slight spoiler, but Twyla notes at the end that no one from the program she was with ever came to check up on Gabriel. No one from the program ever checked in with her to hear Gabriel's condition. It's vexing how interested some people are spending a lot of money in sending young men abroad to witness atrocities, but not willing to spend money to help them when they come back. It's a damn shame we don't put more money, time, and effort in saving lives. I say that also from my experiences working in a VA.

    I do think the last part of the book seem rushed. With the slow buildup throughout the book, the last little bit came off as a disappointing way to finish the book. Some parts of the book were predictable due to the genre,

    . And some characters got the short end of the stick. But there was a touch of realism in the story that I appreciated and I think helped it stand out from other YA books.

    4.49/5 rounds to 4.

  • Liz

    Contemporary realistic YA fiction set in Halo, Montana. A high school senior girl, Twyla, signs up for volunteer work helping veteran, Gabriel. She needs to credit for graduation. He doesn't feel like he needs help, but his parents are away long term and want someone to check in on him. The area is home to warhead silos, and Gabriel has a personal art project creating a mural inside a silo honoring the people and culture of the area he served in Iraq. Twyla gets enthusiastic, enters him in a pre

    Contemporary realistic YA fiction set in Halo, Montana. A high school senior girl, Twyla, signs up for volunteer work helping veteran, Gabriel. She needs to credit for graduation. He doesn't feel like he needs help, but his parents are away long term and want someone to check in on him. The area is home to warhead silos, and Gabriel has a personal art project creating a mural inside a silo honoring the people and culture of the area he served in Iraq. Twyla gets enthusiastic, enters him in a prestigious art contest and puts him in the public eye, for better or worse. They grow attached, it doesn't end the way she'd like.

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