The Blurb Reads,
Joe Dancer, a brilliant Harvard Pre-Med student, is traumatized during the Viet Nam War and gives up his ambition to become a doctor. Twenty years later he meets a woman who was present during his ordeal. With her help he works through his need for atonement and gets a new lease on life.
This is a beautiful book to read. The central premise of the book is Joe’s struggle through life to find the correct closure. Joe is deeply affected by the war in Vietnam. He finds his best mate and soldier Frank killed in an attack and he finds it so hard to risk losing someone else he loves to any uncertain death at all. He pauses his life, in search for closure. When he meets a woman and rediscovers his past, will he move on? Will he finally let go of past hurt and do what he is capable of?
Our lives are lived half in anticipation of a positive future and half in denial of our abilities. We spend days wondering why life doesn’t change yet we fret over making the simplest of changes necessary for our life to become what we want it to become. Joe’s absolute fear of letting death affect him, and his non recognition of the trauma he has gone through, puts his life in an Impasse for 20 years.
I really felt for Joe in the book. I can imagine losing someone in front of your eyes and the sickening feeling and survivor’s guilt that wracks you. What I loved was that Joe had so many characteristics which is present in so many of us. We all wait until the very end and purchase ourselves a truckload of guilt because of unfulfilled aspirations. Many times we are unable to get over the hurt and pain that follows a particular incident.
I felt the author shared this in a lucid and simple manner. I could connect with the characters. When Joe meets the lady who was present when Frank was killed, his life takes a turn. He is finally able to talk about those experiences that hurt him and to attempt to move beyond a walled and restricted life which he had lived.
Joe finally gets his closure when he meets his past. I won’t reveal much here because that is where the book really picked up for me. Often, the persons who hurt us are the ones that can give us the most effective closures. To find an answer to a question that plagued him for 20 years, Joe makes a journey which sets his priorities right. I like the fact that Joe is a principled person who stuck to his ideals even to the point of contradiction. This is an admirable feat to have for anyone.
The end of the story gave me closure too with respect to the characters. Often I’ve read stories which leave the characters at the cusp of a new beginning and this was one of them. It marked the end of one chapter and the advent of another. This i truly appreciate.
My rating: 4/5
A great book to pick up for those contemplative days when you just need some time off to be by yourself.
Take those days often, spend time closing open ends so you can live life as a free bird.
Love this inference from the book.