In the Shadow of War
by Patrick M. Garry
Kenric Books

"We sat there listening to it all, and yet not listening. It felt like the most peaceful moment of my life"

One of the strengths of really good writing is often what it leaves unsaid, allowing the reader to feel the truth more strongly than having it spelled out. There is a lot of really good writing in this novel that delivers major emotional impact in minor keys and literally compels you to follow the story to its conclusion.

The “war” in the title is the Viet Nam War, which locates the story in time. All the action, however, takes place stateside, where internal wars are being fought in a seemingly terminal hamlet in the Midwest. Glen is the narrator recounting the summer he was eighteen. For years, he and his brother spent those warm months at his grandfather’s farm. This summer his brother isn’t with him. Guilt and regret have taken his sibling’s place. New people have found their way to this crumbling village. Hope in a civic resurrection is being fomented at the same time corruption and a hated Southeast Asian war threaten to drive the final nails into the town’s coffin. Glen’s life this summer will be inexorably changed in ways he never could have imagined.

Garry is a writer who utilizes the power of honesty and restraint. He creates vivid characters and imbues them with human frailties that plague us all yet still makes those characters worthy of respect, even admiration. Never forsaking substance for style, he delivers seemingly simple turns-of-phrase that are both impactful and memorable. Perhaps most of all, he respects his readers’ ability to fill in blanks that touch the heart. This is an author and a book worthy of note.

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