The book begins with a “picture” of a typed letter to Janet from Greg, telling her he is stepping out of the picture as a result of his own inability to deal with their divorce. I liked this unique start, this presentation of the letter, it made me want to see what other surprises would be included and I wasn’t disappointed. Chapter 1 begins with Greg fussing over having dropped his motorcycle while off loading from the ship that had only just brought him to Haiti. Right away this character begins to immerge, flawed and realistic, mentally past his edge that was once sharp and dedicated to his career and his family and clearly battling depression and alcoholism while not falling into any cliché patterns but instead, drawing me along into an intriguing storyline that would not allow me to put this book down.
I appreciated the author’s witty prose as he crafted enlightening yet brief flashbacks to establish the needed history behind Greg’s decision to write the letter and to venture to disaster torn Haiti. The supporting characters and the very descriptive imagery as the storyline moved through emotional highs and lows, despair, hopelessness and Greg’s search for himself were written with great skill and talent and presented through Greg’s eyes. The characters were so completely human and realistic that relating and feeling a connection to them was natural. As the reader, I felt like a passenger on the back of Greg’s motorcycle while he showed me Haiti after the earthquake tragedy of 2010, the people that lived there and some of the volunteers, including Beth and Ben. Upon meeting Beth, a dialogue that was so natural and realistic occurs between them and Greg is greatly affected by all that he sees and experiences in the company of her and the other members of her volunteer medical unit over the course of just a few days. True to a well written protagonist, Greg sticks to his original mission and soon meets a colorful character named Ben. From here the story moves a bit quicker as Greg finds where he is needed most, revisits working on things with Janet and becoming part of his daughter’s life again. As the last page is turned and you see the back cover art of this wonderful novel, you can’t help but wish for more!
The way this story discusses the profound impacts of career on family life and on an individual struggling to find the right balance in both, the resulting failed marriage that was based not on sensational events but on a slow deterioration and the great love of a father for his daughter was so real, so not dramatic and so refreshingly presented. The complexities, the reality in the issues and the author’s skill in crafting imagery of places and events was exceptional! I personally would love to read a sequel to this book just to check in on Greg again. In the battle to rise above the millions of authors and books vying for number one these days, it was quite courageous to leave out vampires, monsters, psychopaths, elves and the like and write a real story like this!
Book reviewed by Debra L Hartmann, Owner of The Pro Book Editor theprobookeditor.com and dlhbookreviews