Looking for a well-written exploration of family dynamics, the influence of the war on its veterans, and the power of one–both good and bad?
Pick up Judy Reene Singers latest offering and settle in for a fast, compelling read. The title is linked to Amazon and there are no spoilers ahead:
With three books under her belt, Singer returns with a beautifully written story about the ugly truths of life, both past and present.
With her father on his deathbed, Rachel Fleisher agrees to visit her parents in Arizona. Perfect(ly flawed) sister Sandra makes a great foil for the black sheep Rachel against the backdrop of one very nasty mother and one surly father.
And so, at her father’s inevitable and pathetically small funeral, a stranger stands off to the side. She approaches the family and presents a mystery: a message from the woman’s own ailing father who served in WWII, stateside in Alabama with the deceased.
A shocking message.
This event compels Rachel to learn more about her grouchy father…to come to an understanding of who this enigma of a man once was.
The narrative shifts between 1940’s Alabama to the present day at Rachel’s New York horse farm, which she runs with the help of an old black man, Malachi.
To up the stakes, Rachel is at odds with her live-in attorney boyfriend and has her own soul-searching to do, and yet the mystery of her father’s experiences in WWII beckon.
And so, when Rachel meets the elderly Willie Jackson, a black Army private who served under her Jewish father’s command, she is lost in his story, trying to balance out the puzzle of the man she called father, the man who was her mother’s sun and moon, and the man who was once labeled a murderer.
I enjoyed Singer’s descriptive prose, and though I’m not a horse-person, I am a story person, and she weaves a strong tale. The parents were, at times, drawn too severely, but Singer gives them the motivation for becoming the people they are. Broken. Mean. Dismissive.
Sister Sandra brought mild comic relief to the dark portrayal of the parents. Always hungry for love, she has married her way through a stack of men, and eaten her heart out–always trying to fill the hole in her life with food. Her father’s death also brings out the greed in Sandra. The perfect daughter is a perfect pain in her own ass.
Finally, this book demonstrates how black and Jewish soldiers were treated in Alabama during WWII without being preachy or overbearing. The writing brings a hidden history to life of our real American heroes who were treated like anything but.
RATING: Four out of Five Foxes
Susan J. Anderson
Foxy Writer Chick