The topic of this month is Kicking It Old School (publication date 10 years or older)
My Rating: 5 stars
Why was this book in my TBR pile?
Well, I’ve seen great reviews of this book in the last years. One of it was in this TBR challenge, as Wendy chose it in May 2015.
And if a book as old as this is still read and enjoyed it’s that it has got something really good and special in it.
Now that I have read it, I do agree.
I can’t believe that this is supposed to be just a category romance (SIM-602). There’s such a depth in it!
The story begins in Vietnam, during the war, 1969. A young soldier, Tony Riordan, is attended by a military nurse. He is so badly hurt that he just wants to die. But this woman does not allow him to die. ‘You stay with me, you hear? You are not dying on me?’ and all that.
And he doesn’t.
Two decades later, he wants to thank her because she saved his life. He finds this nurse, Claire Henderson, at an inn in Virginia. She’s a grown woman who has this budding inn business and at the same time, she still works as a nurse and is raising two teenagers. On her own. With good days and bad days.
When he comes to say thank you, all those terrible memories come back to her worse than ever. She accuses him to provoke her nightmares but as a matter of fact, she’s suffering PTSD from her times in the Army. It’s not just Tony Riordan. It’s that her son wants to join the Army. It’s just that the US was going to another conflict. It was Somalia in the book (which for reasons unknown the author puts in ‘North Africa’, when it is on the Eastern Coast of that continent) but it could have been any other chapter in this long perpetual war. Everything overwhelms her and she begins to crack down.
Tony recognizes the symptoms, as he himself has suffered from it. And he wants to help her, not to cure her, because it’s a pathological condition and he is no doctor. But he wants her to -at least- recognize it and direct her in the right direction.
For the first time, Claire has got someone by her side that understands what she has seen, how she feels, what’s going on with her. She has to keep going because of her children, but cannot do it alone. Now she has somebody to rely on.
It’s not an easy book. I mean, these are real people that you have this feeling, have to exist somewhere. They have families, responsibilities; they’re old enough to know their way in life. So if you want your romance novels set in idyllic places with rich and noble people with not a problem in their lives, and nothing can go wrong, well -this is not a book for you.
But I hope that there are many readers out there who thank books with a sense of reality in them. The happy ending is a given, but that does not mean that the road to that point is easy, or childish or full of silly misunderstandings and pouting adults behaving as if they were performing in High School musical.
This is a rare book. It’s not only that the characters are in their forties, but also that the soldier with PTSD is not the hero but the heroine. This woman is a mother and she’s got a stressful job. She has to be strong and cope with this mental issue that is undermining her balance.
Suffering is not romantic, but having understanding is. It’s not that I’ve been there and suffered that, I’m more on the stressful side than the depressing one, but I know what it is to have insomnia, to go from one room to the other late at night, having tears you are not allowed to shed in daylight. This book has made me think that perhaps I am wrong in my idea that I shouldn’t care about my feelings and emotions, as far as my children are okay. No, I come to realise that what a mother feels also matters, because if you do not take care of yourself, you cannot take care of the rest of the family.
Perhaps that was why I loved this book. It touched something inside me. It made me cry and it made me think.
Why are not out there books like this? I want them! Real women, in their forties, a second chance at love, authentic inner voices.
It’s one of the best romance novels I’ve ever read. It’s got great reviews these last years. In Heroes and Heartbreakers, Victoria Janssen published ‘The PTSD Breakdown Scene in Kathleen Korbel’s A Soldier’s Heart’, and she said this:
She suffered serious trauma there but, as women continue to do even today, suppressed or ignored her own symptoms for years in favor of caring for others. She’s a practical, forthright, strong character who has trouble accepting that she might in turn need help.
And that’s in a nutshell, what I found so great about this book. We women suffer traumas but we ignore our own problems in order to care for others, and reject the possibility of needing anyone. Until everything falls apart.
A Guest Reviewer gave it an A- review in Dear Author in 2014. Leigh Thomas wrote a DIK A- review for All About Romance.This mini-review by Miss Bates was the one that made me buy this book last April.
So, really, if you see this book in a second-hand store or in the library give it a chance. It’s worth it.