On his 81st birthday, without explanation, Karen Alaniz's father placed two weathered notebooks on her lap. Inside were more than 400 pages of letters he'd written to his parents during WWII. She began reading them, and the more she read, the more she discovered about the man she never knew and the secret role he played in WWII. They began to meet for lunch every week, for her to ask him questions, and him to provide the answers. And with painful memories now at the forefront of his thoughts, her father began to suffer, making their meetings as much about healing as discovery.
First thoughts after finishing this book: The quiet ones usually have the best stories to tell!
This book couldn't have been read at a better time with Veteran's Day being celebrated and with me watching Lisa Ling's latest installment of "Our America: Invisible Wounds of War." Both the book and the documentary left me with conflicting feelings and a heavy heart. Most of you know that my oldest is a Marine. I'm so very proud of his accomplishments to-date and for his service to our wonderful country. Yet, as I read this book and watched the documentary I realized that it all comes with a hefty price tag. The author's father never really talked about his experience during WWII so she was caught off-guard when he gave her several notebooks filled with the letters he penned to his parents while serving in Hawaii. Little did she know what reading those letters and then asking her father questions would set off. Her father at times would freely give her information, but more often than not he would become angry and deny taking part in any type of combat. Revisiting those letters caused him to come to terms with his grief, anger, hurt, and hopelessness over the images he witnessed and the covert operations that he was a part of. Back then they called it shell shock. Now we call it PTSD. The book made me sad at times and the documentary really reinforced to me what the author's father experienced. I have since then found myself at war with my own feelings about the military, serving our country, and the broken men and women that are coming home. An average of 18 veterans commit suicide daily....it is becoming an epidemic. And as a mother, I do not want my son to experience combat. I don't want my son to become hopeless. I don't want my son or anyone else's son or daughter to become a part of that statistic. I never really thought of those who came and fought before us...it's history, but this book made me realize that being a soldier then and now isn't really that much different. War is ugly and it leaves hideous scars on those that survive.
Recommend? I would highly recommend this book to those that have or had a family member who served and may have experienced combat. The author gave us glimpses into her father's world by highlighting some of his letters and then delving into certain incidences while having her weekly breakfast with her Dad. I loved reading his first-hand reports of Hawaii and I thought she really let his personality shine through this story. As each day ends we lose more and more of our WWII Vets....we need to get their stories down on paper before there is no one left to tell the tale.
Author: Karen Fisher-Alaniz
Source: e-book Sourcebooks/NetGalley
Published: November, 2011 Sourcebooks
Disclaimer:Thank you toSourcebooks Landmark for sending me a review copy. I was not compensated for my review. My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist.They are my personal reflections based solely on MYexperience while reading this novel.
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