Today, I’m excited to welcome Jennifer Brozek to Bookwraiths. She has taken the time to drop by to shed a little light on how a one star review stuck with her and shed light on the difference between military brats and everyone else!
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OBSERVATIONS OF AN AMERICAN
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The Nellus Academy Incident was first released on Battle Corps, the subscription website for BattleTech fans. Then it was re-released as a novel in 2014 and won the Scribe Award for the best YA tie-in novel for the year. Two years later, it is now in print and I’m pleased. It is a good-looking book that holds the first chapter of my next YA BattleTech novel, Iron Dawn.
Even though it has been out for years and I’ve had good and bad reviews for it, one glorious one-star review has stuck with me. All it said was, “Kids just don’t act that way.”
I remember when I first saw the review, I laughed and thought, “You have never met a military brat or a cadet.” Then I moved on with my day. The review has stuck with me because, unless you have been a military brat or a cadet and lived on a military base for most of your young life, you will not understand how military brats think.
Military Brats Grow Up Fast.
We have a different mindset growing up on military bases and within the military culture. There is an early knowledge and focus on duty, responsibility, and preparedness. It is based on watching our parents as well as being taught it in on-base schools. There is a military custom and courtesy that must be adhered to.
We know that members of the military may be called into a hostile situation at any time… which means we know that our parents may be there one day and gone the next. That absence could be weeks or months or years… or forever. We know this. This means we need to be able to care for ourselves and our siblings.
I’m not even going to get into the presence of, training with, or knowledge of the different kind of available weapons.
Military Brats Are Adaptable.
On average, most military brats will move every 2-3 years of their lives. This means that they will never have that close friend from grade school through high school. They will never have the same classmates or that one favorite teacher. They will never know the security of owning a home that they know will still be there in ten years. I’m 47 and I have, for the first time in my life, lived in the same house for more than 5 years.
While we are missing out on the typical American civilian upbringing, we do have other awesome experiences. We get to reinvent ourselves everywhere we move to. No one knows our past. We learn to mimic accents within minutes of hearing them because if you sound local, you don’t get picked on as much. We learn to become a pseudo-local and know how to make friends fast. Some of these friendships go deep, but until we are older, they last only as long as we live in that location. We adapt to our new surroundings at a remarkable speed because we have no other choice.
Military Brats Get the Job Done.
There were several phrases I heard growing up military:
- “Don’t start something you can’t finish.”
- “If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right.”
- “You never start a fight, but you do your best to finish it.”
These are concepts I knew from the moment I understood what chores were and that not everyone agreed with each other all the time. If I was given a job, I finished it or I was forced to do it again and again until it was done right. If I argued with my parents over anything, I needed to have my ducks in a row before I began. I needed to see it through to the end whether or not I liked what that ending was. You do the job until it is done. You finished the argument and you accepted the end result.
Military Brats Understand Consequences.
Like most military brats, I had a fairly strict upbringing. I had rules. Actions had consequences. If I broke those rules, I would face the consequences. My parents didn’t hedge. Break the rule, get the punishment. Most military brats learned early to gauge the worth of the action. Was breaking that rule worth the punishment? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. It taught me to think before I acted.
It also taught me to learn how to skirt the rules or to be able to explain, very logically, why a rule had been bent or slightly broken. A good explanation could get you out of a punishment. Sometimes. It was a good lesson in risk assessment.
“Kids just don’t act that way…”
Military brats are not like civilian kids and most civilians will never understand that or them. They will never understand why a military brat acts the way they do, the language they use, or the habits they’ve picked up. While civilian kids can have some or all of the skills mentioned above, they won’t have the military mindset, the military training, or the absorbed military customs and courtesies.
While I don’t blame the reviewer for the one-star review, it brings home to me once more that I had the kind of upbringing most Americans did not have. For most of America, “kids don’t act that way,” but on military bases and in military academies, they do.