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The Mosaic by Nina Berkhout


Interests/Topics:  art, music, photography, romance, PTSD, war, community

Curriculum Connections: English, Visual Art

Gender: F/M

Age: 14+

Blurb: I have to admit that I had it pretty good in high school, especially during my senior year. It’s not like I enjoyed school or anything, so don’t get me wrong. But I only had to attend three classes and my school board didn’t require us to do community service hours in order to graduate. Like I said, I had it pretty good.

Twyla Lee, in The Mosaic, doesn’t have it nearly as good. She’s a senior stuck in a military town in rural Montana. The problem? She’s a pacifist. The other problem? She needs community service hours to graduate and there’s only one position left: assisting a former marine suffering from PTSD with household chores. That’s just fantastic.

Gabriel Finch spends most of his days holed up in a decommissioned nuclear silo on his farm. And that’s just fine with Twyla. She’d rather not interact with him anyhow. Their views on war are bound to be as different as black and white. But Twyla’s curiosity gets the better of her and she wanders inside the silo certain that she’ll find it stockpiled with food and weapons for the Armageddon. She couldn’t have been more wrong.

Gabriel had spent months transforming the silo into a beautiful mosaic made from ammunition. The result is so breathtaking that Twyla decides to enter it into an art contest at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. A budding photographer, Twyla captures the mosaic on film, certain that it will win the grand prize. What Twyla couldn’t have possibly predicted, however, was the attention that the mosaic would attract.

Not all people are fans of art, especially those who think ammunition has one purpose. Before long, Gabriel becomes a target in their military community and everything Twyla thought she knew about war comes to a head.

And she thought war could be art.

Flavour: “‘Tell me if I’ve got this straight. Gabriel Finch is making a mosaic in the decommissioned silo on the farm property. From ammunition.’

‘You got it.’

‘And he’s entering it in an art contest.’

‘I convinced him. His family’s broke. They’ll lose the farm.’

‘This is what you’re volunteering for.’

I nodded.

‘Are the Help a Vet folks aware of the project?’ she asked.

‘Why? What’s he done wrong?’

‘Same way as someone who’s not a soldier dressing up as a soldier is a crime, some may see this as defacing Air Force property.’

‘He’s not defacing it. What he’s making is … it’s breathtaking.’” (126–127)

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