Life on Base: Quantico Cave is first in a projected series of middle school books and introduces Stephen, whose life on a military base is presented in exact detail. While many novels introduce the themes of 'army brats' interacting with their peers, few actually take the time to reveal base life itself, with all the uncertainties and altered realities that it brings.
As an example of the latter: what non-base kid needs to know their parents' ranking? What civilian child lives in a world where everyone's parents do the same job and everyone is trained to interact in a self-contained environment of military history and experience? And what average middle-school student is more concerned about decorum and exercise strategy than play?
There are plenty of experiences and differences on a military base to separate an army brat from a civilian child, and all these are thoroughly explored in a story set on a base where military structure and values override all concerns.
As Stephen faces constant changes, good and bad kids, and temptations and alternate directions, messages from the military and his parents' training permeate his consciousness and dictate his choices ("Keep your head up, his dad’s voice shouted from somewhere in his mind. Don’t cry, boy. You’ll be a Marine someday. We protect those who can’t protect themselves.")
From life on a base under lockdown and how children and their parents react to 'Clothes Monster' nightmares to the lingering affects of absent parents and constant moving, Life on Base: Quantico Cave is a story of friendships made and lost, of military family social interactions, and of one boy's coming of age in a world where routines are part of a rigid, essential system linked to survival and a greater good.
Anyone who wants to know exactly how base life is perceived by the young will find Life on Base: Quantico Cave engrossing and unparalleled in its descriptions of military base life's impact on family and friendships.