scoopgirl (scoopgirl) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
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Books 37 and 38

Book 37
Faith Under Fire – Roger Benimoff

 

Tour tours in Iraq has could shatter even the strongest soldier. When that soldier is instead an ordained Baptist chaplain, absorbing the stories and death around him and failing to recognize his own reactions, the collapse can be complete.

That’s what happened to Benimoff, who struggled with PTSD and began questioning his belief in God.

Benimoff is excellent at capturing what he sees and knows but surprisingly not as equipped to tell what he feels. He glosses over, for instance, how is able to reconcile his witnessing of civilian deaths at hands of U.S. soldiers with his moral beliefs.

Still, his account of war and its tolls on even people only tangentially involved are a gripping reminder of faith and ethics in our world.

 

Book 38
Every Last One – Anna Quindlen

 

Anna Quindlen loves herself a tragedy.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter has written wrenching novels before this one, which examines the daily life of a seemingly ordinary family about to endure extraordinary loss.

First, the good: Quindlen’s attention to detail and craft as a writer allow the routine of the family to make it clear what is coming, if you’re paying attention.

Now, the bad: A cynic (like me) or someone who has dealt with this kind of loss (like me) can see what’s coming from the first chapter.

That is to say, I can see where someone watching from the outside, used to reading news stories about such acts, would find her work perceptive and touching. She uses first-person narration, from the view of mother Mary Beth, to show how we react when the bad things we think happen but to other people suddenly arrive on our doorstep.

But unlike Stewart O’Nan’s brilliant “Songs for the Missing,” Quindlen’s attempt to chart the grief and disbelief of loss is clumsy to someone like me. There is a sense of trying to build a character out of what you imagine it would be like to be someone trapped in that news story. But Quindlen can’t quite capture it, because imagination is sometimes not enough.

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