Monday, May 11, 2009

Soft Spots by Clint Van Winkle

Flap Copy from ARC:
"We'd been told it would be a good idea to write a 'death letter' in case we didn't make it home alive. The First Sergeant said we should write the letter to our loved ones: wife, children, parents, or whoever. It didn't need to be long, just a memo tht would give the family closure in case we died on the battlefield.

He was brief, just told us to write, address them, and then to hand the envelope over to him. He'd make sure they made it to where they needed to go once you stepped on a mine, got shot by a friend, or were blown apart by a rocket-propelled grenade. Eighteen-year-old Marines had to drop their superman acts and face the truth of war- people die. As if a letter was going to make anyone feel better. We were left to ponder our young lives, to sum it up on notebook paper, then seal it in an envelope. No stamp required. The government would pay for that."

This troubling memoir of a Marine attempting to live a normal life in the aftermath of a PTSD diagnosis highlights the need for more research into treating this dehabilitating condition. The author survived his tour in Iraq only to return home to a system unable to deal with his now fractured psyche. The memoir is hard to follow- dreams and real life blur, and there is no clear sense of time to give the reader an anchor, but the effect is to plunge the reader into Van Winkle's shifting reality.

I found this book powerful and moving, but a little incomplete. I would have appreciated more information about Van Winkle's wife Sara and her efforts to live with his PTSD. I also would have liked more information on Van Winkle's backstory to help highlight the changes he has experienced since the war. Nevertheless, this book is an excellent account of one man's struggle to rediscover himself in the aftermath of serving in OIF. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

Staci said...

Excellent review and this sounds like an important book to read.