***I received a free copy from the author in return for an honest review.
After finishing this book, I have a better understanding of the title.
Summary: It seems odd to say that there is so much life in this book, when it’s about a young girl working through the grief of losing her brother in the war and uncovering the journey one of the vets went through to get home. There’s a couple of layers and I can’t find the right words to mingle the stories together, like the book does. There is so much depth. The story will definitely stay with me.
Characters, Locale & Story: It starts off from Betsy’s teenage perspective. I thought she was going to be a character I really despised. A cheerleader, one of the popular girls. I don’t think I’ve read a book yet that starred the popular kid. It’s always the outsider. But circumstances lead Betsy to be a candy striper at the local veteran hospital. That’s where she carves out a space in my heart.
The hospital is located on the outskirts of town, and the locals choose to ignore it. It’s like they put our returned servicemen in the too hard basket. Betsy even says it after her first day, “They’re awful to look at. Perfectly awful.” They don’t want them ruining their perfect little town of Hanna.
I really enjoyed the band of misfits at the hospital. They are exactly how one would imagine war vets to be, characters.
Grumbles: I had a few niggly moments towards the beginning. I found it hard to keep up with who was telling the story, just within the first 50 or so pages. They each have their own voice and it becomes easier to differentiate between them.
And I wasn’t too sure about the jump back in time in the second chapter. I’m so used to reading YA or childrens fiction where the jumps/voices are clearly labelled in the chapter titles.
There was a sentence which I had to laugh at. Did they really say BOSS in ’84? I think that’s cool if they did!
“Nathan’s boxes were just so boss, but I always worried they might not make it.”
Language: In terms of the language though, I think the author wrote that time period very well. Just as an example and this isn’t the best, but this made me giggle. Betsy was blackmail her brother, “Not if you’re serving time in the kiddie slammer swinging a shovel it won’t.”
But my favourite phrase, I was wondering if it was quoted from somewhere, is
“For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were our fathers; our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.”
Recommendation: I don’t want to give too much away. I’ve never been great at writing spoiler free reviews. I would definitely recommend this if you’re into historical fiction, war, and mystery.
My rating: 4 out of 5