CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 3 . . . . September 29, 2006
He was telling me in his long, roundabout, Bruce Cutter fashion that when the darkness comes, from outside or from inside, and tempts you to mine the schoolyard, blow up the building, pick up the gun, throw the punch – then you have two choices, the green helmet or the blue one. You can join the war, or you can keep the peace.
Lee Mercer does not start out as a likeable character. He sees the world in very black and white terms – his terms - and he is not willing to change or to listen to anyone. His character changes and grows throughout the book, but the changes are very subtle. The reader mainly notices the changes when Lee does something that he would not have done in the past, such as his volunteering to help someone or figuring out the consequences of his actions. The Blue Helmet reminds the reader that all actions have consequences, and that one must take responsibility for one's actions and the resulting consequences. This is brought home time and time again as Lee sees the consequences of his actions, first without accepting them, and then starting to take the responsibility. William Bell draws parallels between actions in war, such as what Bruce experiences in Croatia, and actions at home, such as what Lee experiences. The setting does not matter; you always have the same two choices – the green helmet or the blue helmet. The Blue Helmet is also the story of Lee's family, especially the relationship between Lee and his father. Their relationship is in terrible shape, and neither one tries to understand the other. Lee has to grow and accept the reasons why his father works two jobs, and he has to reach out to make the reconciliation and re-create his family. These sections are written in very stark terms, without taking sides with Lee or his father.
Bell has created a fast-paced and moving story of a teen trying to find his place in the world and make the choice between the green helmet and the blue helmet.
Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen is a student in the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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