A book review for parents
This suspense-thriller novel is the first book in the "I, Q" series by Roland Smith and is published by Sleeping Bear Press.
Independence Hall is written for kids ages 10 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness..
Thirteen-year-old Quest Munoz is known as Q and wants to be a magician someday. His mother, Blaze, who is a singer, marries a man named Roger, who is also a songwriter-singer. His daughter is 15-year-old Angela. Her mother, Malak, was a Secret Service agent, and Angela excels in observation and Tae Kwon Do. Their parents' first CD hits platinum, so the parents and children choose to go on tour in a large bus; the kids are home-schooled. When the bus breaks down, a roadie named Tyrone Boone, who is really an ex-Secret Service agent, becomes their driver. When Q and Angela's parents leave to make guest appearances on talk shows, Boone watches the kids. The two realize they are being followed and eventually learn that Boone is a private agent working with other former Secret Service agents. They are there to protect the kids because there is a question as to whether Angela's mother is still alive. An Israeli intelligence unit has been trailing Q and Angela because they think Angela's mother is alive and is a terrorist. After many clues, a few scuffles and a lot of spy tricks, Angela and Q meet her mother who is deep under cover to stop terrorism. They are not allowed to tell their newly married parents about her, and there is a promise of more adventures to come.
Q's mother and Angela's father gave up their careers to raise their children. Q's father is known as being an unbalanced but brilliant musician, and Angela's mother was a Secret Service agent. Blaze and Roger have returned to the stage, and they intend to bring their kids with them as they travel to new gigs. Yet, with the wedding and publicity rounds they make, they don't have too much time to spend with the kids. Therefore, they do a lot of calling and texting. Tyrone Boone is an ex-Secret Service agent who has the kids' best interests in mind. He initially lies to them about his secret identity, but eventually tells them the whole truth about his role in their lives and lets them decide how they want to proceed. In a couple of places, Boone explains how government agencies, such as the FBI and the CIA, are ineffective.
Other Belief Systems
A few darns are present. There is mention of a man being tortured and killed, and a bomb goes off that supposedly kills Angela's mother. There is an intentional car wreck where the kids' driver is hurt and has blood on his face. Angela uses her Tae Kwon Do, causing one man's face to swell and a woman's shoulder to pop out of joint. The Massad talk about kidnapping a woman, and there is a lot of mention about terrorist cells.
At one point, Q asks Angela whether their parents (Blaze and Roger) are legally married if Malak is still alive. Angela looks worried, but says that Malak has been pronounced legally dead. The subject isn't mentioned again, and Blaze and Roger are not told that Malak is alive.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Q and Angela have to wait in the bus for hours for their parents because of a wedding photo shoot that they are not a part of.
How would this make them feel estranged from their parents?
How do the kids feel about Buddy?
Is Buddy concerned about the kids' family or something else?
Who are some people around you who care about you and/or your family?
Who are some people in your life who are only there for a specific purpose? (e.g., "I say hi to the mailman every day, but he only stops by to bring the mail because it's his job.")
- How well did Q and Angela transition from total strangers to sleeping in adjacent berths on the bus and spending most of their time together?
What do Q and Angela have in common?
How are they different?
Why do they decide to make their brother/sister relationship work whether they like each other or not?
- Why does Angela always wear sunglasses?
How observant are you?
How could sunglasses make you more observant or less observant?
- Why do Boone and his team look down on government agencies, such as the FBI and CIA?
What is one example that shows Boone knows what he is doing?
How long does it take someone to become an expert in something?
In what area do you hope to grow in knowledge and experience to perhaps someday be an expert?
- Why did Malak pretend to be the one who died?
How does she think her actions will stop terrorist groups?
How would you feel if the mother you thought had died was alive?
- How did Malak's decision to go deep undercover affect others?
Are Blaze and Roger married?
Would you be able to keep this secret from your parent and stepparent?
Is it OK for kids to keep this kind of a secret?
How can Angela and Q honor all their parents?
Note: The home schooling in this story consists of kids occasionally doing things over the Internet, which isn't a true representation of home schooling.
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.